Greetings from the Capitol Hilton hotel, where the voting for Republican National Committee chairman is taking place. They’ve just had the first ballot, and, with 85 votes required for victory, incumbent chairman Mike Duncan is in the lead with 52 votes. Michael Steele is in second place with 46; Katon Dawson is in third with 28; Saul Anuzis is in fourth with 22; and Ken Blackwell has 20.
Theories abound as to what happens next. A Steele supporter says Duncan’s 52 is a bit less than the current chairman should have gotten. “It’s bad news for Duncan,” the Steele man says. “Forty-six votes means that Steele was able to attract more people than we thought on the first ballot.”
A supporter of another candidate is carrying around a sheet with results from the 1997 RNC chairman contest. In that race, the eventual winner, Jim Nicholson, got just 23 votes on the first ballot, putting him in third place. Nicholson eventually prevailed on the fifth ballot, leading virtually every back-in-the-pack candidate here to hope that it can happen again.