FrumForum has learned that it is unlikely that incumbent RNC Chairman Michael Steele will be attending the RNC conservative caucus’ forum for prospective chairman candidates on Wednesday.
FrumForum has also confirmed that Maria Cino will not be attending the debate, but will be attending the 26-member conservative caucus’ private meeting on Thursday.
Announced candidates Saul Anuzis and Ann Wagner are both expected to attend, as well as potential candidate Chris Healy. An organizer for the debate also said that Gentry Collins was expected to attend, although FF could not immediately confirm this from Collins or sources close to him.
By scheduling the debate relatively early – December 1st – the conservative caucus has put pressure on potential candidates to decide whether or not to run. That decision, for many aspirants to the chairmanship, will depend on whether incumbent Chairman Michael Steele launches a bid for reelection, as he still controls a substantial bloc of RNC votes.
Don’t expect Steele to make up his mind soon. “I suspect that Michael Steele won’t make a decision [on whether to run] until next week… early to mid-week. That’s the impression that I get, but I could be wrong,” a Republican source close to the RNC told FrumForum.
If Steele doesn’t make a decision by tomorrow – which seems unlikely – he won’t be at the debate, something that will reduce the impact of the candidates’ forum.
“It seems that Bopp and the conservative caucus has marginalized the impact of this debate. The bet to [organize] it early forces candidates to have to decide to [enter the race] or not. And only Ann Wagner and Saul Anuzis have decided to go,” said one Republican strategist familiar with RNC chair campaigning. “However, Steele may be calling [Bopp’s] bluff by not showing his hand. Whatever decision Steele makes means that Bopp is not dealing with the full field.”
Maria Cino, the CEO of the 2008 Republican convention, has not announced a run for the chairmanship, but a spokesperson for the small group advising Cino on a potential run tells FrumForum that she’s close to announcing a bid. “She’s getting closer to announcement, and still going through the list of calls – it’s important to her that she reach out to every member and get feedback before she makes a final decision,” said the spokesman.
The same spokesperson told FrumForum that Cino will not be attending the public debate on Wednesday, but will attend the conservative caucus’ private meeting on Thursday. “While not an announced candidate, she thinks that, out of respect to her fellow conservatives, she should sit down and discuss any questions that they have,” said the spokesperson.
Still, the debate will feature several announced and unannounced candidates. Chris Healy told FrumForum on Monday that he expects to attend the debate, and announced candidate Ann Wagner’s campaign has confirmed her attendance to FrumForum. One debate organizer said former Michigan state chair Saul Anuzis was also expected at the debate.
As of this afternoon, none of the other potential candidates are expected to show up, an organizer for the debate told FrumForum.
UPDATE: FrumForum has obtained a list of all the RNC members to expected to be present at the National Republican Conservative Caucus’ debate tomorrow, moderated by FreedomWorks’ Max Pappas and Russ Walker. So far 20 RNC members are on the guest list.
- Anthony Parker (National Committeeman, District of Columbia)
- Bill Crocker (National Committeeman, Texas)
- Bruce Ash (National Committeeman, Arizona)
- Carolyn McLarty (National Committeewoman, Oklahoma)
- Christine Toretti (National Committeewoman, Pennsylvania)
- David Cole (State Chairman, Missouri)
- Dee Dee Benkie (National Committeewoman, Indiana)
- Demetra Demonte (National Committeewoman, Illinois)
- Greg Schaefer (National Committeeman, Wyoming)
- Henry Barbour (National Committeeman, Mississippi)
- Jan Larimer (Co-Chairman, RNC)
- Jim Bopp (National Committeeman, Indian)
- Louis Pope (National Committeeman, Maryland)
- Mike Stuart (State Chairman, West Virginia)
- Pete Ricketts (National Committeeman, Nebraska)
- Reince Preibus (State Chairman, Wisconsin)
- Ron Kaufman (National Committeeman, Massachusetts)
- Ron Nehring (State Chairman, California)
- Solomon Yue (National Committeeman, Oregon)
- Steve Scheffler (National Committeeman, Iowa)
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