Gentry Collins Leaves GOP Chair Race, Majority Oppose Steele

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2011   |   12:29PM   |   Washington, DC

The race for the chairmanship of the Republican party in the lead up to today’s debate sees gentry Collins leaving the race and reports that GOP chair Michael Steele lacks enough votes.

Collins, the former Republican National Committee political director who resigned last year and issued a scathing report on the financial and other problems at the Republican Party, dropped out last night after seeing that he didn’t have enough support to be nominated at the RNC meetings January 12-15 where the vote will take place.

Collins said he entered the race to provide an alternative to Steele, who has been besieged with criticism for putting the GOP in a difficult financial position that could greatly affect the ability of defeating pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2012, but he said the entrance of other candidates in the race makes it so he no longer feels the need to continue his bid.

“During the last month and a half, I have spent my time traveling to 20 states and meeting with many members of the RNC talking about change in leadership at the RNC and how to get it back on solid financial footing,” Collins wrote. “I entered this race to make sure there was a credible alternative to Michael Steele and have said from day one I will not get in the way of electing new leadership at the RNC.”

“I believe that there are several qualified candidates in the race for Chairman, each of whom would do a fine job leading the committee through the 2012 Election cycle,” he added. “I am confident that the members of the Republican National Committee will make the right decision on January 14th.”

Collins’ departure means Steele will face four opponents including former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis, Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus, and former RNC co-chairman Ann Wagner. All three have interviewed with the Susan B. Anthony List and declared themselves fully pro-life and ready to uphold the pro-life platform of the Republican Party.

Steele also faces 2008 Republican convention organizer Maria Cino, who has come under fire for her past involvement in and donations to the pro-abortion Republican group WISH List, which she recently attempted to explain away in a Friday SBA List interview, where she also declared herself to be a strongly pro-life Catholic. 

Meanwhile, a Politico report indicates Steele, who also told SBA he is pro-life, is opposed by 88 of 168 RNC members who will be voting for a new chairman. With the winning candidate needing 85 votes to win, the report makes it appeal Steele would lack a majority even if he can advance to later ballots and eventually face one of his opponents.

Also today, RNC chief of staff Mike Leavitt and communications director Doug Heye announced they are stepping down from their positions at top Steele aides at the Republican Party, adding to the negative news that appears possible it will doom Steele’s attempt to stay on as chairman.

The head of one pro-life group, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, has already suggested Steele should be replaced — citing poor fundraising and preparation for defeating Obama and Steele’s questionable remarks on abortion that go against his own stated pro-life positions.

The chairmanship of the GOP is important because the party apparatus will lay the groundwork for the massive get out the vote campaign necessary to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

“It is critical that the next RNC chairman not only be pro-life, but be prepared to use his or her position to advance pro-life values,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told Tuesday morning.