Although he has kept quiet so far about his plans for the future, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus is unlikely to seek reelection, party insiders tell Politico, and the race to replace him is starting to shape up.
Arizona Republican Party chair Robert Graham has already begun making inroads among the 168 RNC members who will decide on a new chair after the election in November, and is expected to informally launch his “campaign” at the Cleveland convention later this month.
Former Oklahoma GOP chair Mike Pinnell, currently the RNC’s national state-party director, is another name being mentioned as likely to seek the position.
Much depends on the outcome of November’s election: If presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wins, he will have significant influence over who succeeds Priebus, whereas a defeat would lead to a more open race — which Politico adds “could become a forum for a debate over the future of the GOP.”
That the GOP chair appears to be preparing to step down comes as no surprise considering the rift in the party Establishment over which he has presided. His embrace of Trump, who once called him “a disgrace” who “should be ashamed of himself” on account of the party’s “rigged” delegate system, earned Priebus the ire of the party’s #NeverTrump wing, even as he remains the face of the hated party Establishment that Trump has been using as a punching bag to great effect.
Priebus, who took over the GOP chair from Michael Steele in 2011, famously commissioned the “autopsy report” on the GOP’s unexpectedly poor performance in the 2012 elections, which warned that the Republicans could not survive as the party of white identity politics — a warning they proceeded to disregard entirely in this election cycle.