Michael Steele bowed out as RNC Chairman after several rounds of balloting in which he fell further behind the remaining candidates. After seven rounds, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus finally emerged the winner.

Round 7 Balloting:

Anuzis – 43
Cino – 28
Preibus – 97

In stepping aside, Steele noted that the party was “ready for something different.” As reported by the Associated Press story on GOPUSA, Steele said, “Despite the noise, despite the difficulties, we won. We must go forward, and we must win. We fired (Nancy) Pelosi. Let’s take the Senate. Let’s take the White House.”

As part of his speech, Steele endorsed fellow opponent Maria Cino.

From the AP news story:

The chairman’s job includes serving as the leading spokesman promoting the party’s agenda and countering that of Democrats, raising money to help Republicans win in the next elections, and improving a get-out-the-vote effort that critics say languished under Steele.

Most urgently, the new chairman must retire an RNC debt of about $22 million owed to vendors and banks, as well as lure back demoralized donors who have been so frustrated with Steele’s management that they sent their dollars elsewhere or didn’t open their wallets at all last year. The party had only about $1 million cash on hand at year’s end.

The candidates:

–Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who lost to Steele two years ago. Savvy with social networking, Anuzis argues that the RNC must be competitive on the technology front to have a chance at toppling Obama.

–Maria Cino, a New York native and a veteran party operative who served in the Bush administration and was a top planner of the 2008 Republican nominating convention. She has cast herself as a turn-around specialist when it comes to fixing troubled national party organizations.

–Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin Republican Party chairman who ran Steele’s chairmanship bid in 2009. He broke with Steele to run against him and has the backing of several GOP insiders. Priebus argues that fixing the RNC’s finances is a top priority; critics accuse him of ignoring the money problem when he was close to Steele.

–Ann Wagner, a former Missouri state GOP chair who was an RNC co-chairwoman from 2001 to 2005 and was once an ambassador under George W. Bush. She argues that the RNC is broken and needs to completely re-evaluate how it operates.

Round 1 Balloting:
Anuzis – 24
Cino – 32
Priebus – 45
Steele – 44
Wagner – 23

Round 2 Balloting:
Anuzis – 22
Cino – 30
Priebus – 52
Steele – 37
Wagner – 27

Round 3 Balloting:
Anuzis – 21
Cino – 28
Priebus – 54
Steele – 33
Wagner – 32

Round 4 Balloting:
Anuzis – 24
Cino – 29
Priebus – 58
Steele – 28
Wagner – 28

Steele drops out.

Round 5 Balloting:
Anuzis – 32
Cino – 40
Priebus – 67
Wagner – 28

Round 6 Balloting:
Anuzis – 37
Cino – 34
Preibus – 80
Wagner – 17

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