Before the casting of the fourth ballot, incumbent chairman Mike Duncan stepped to the stage and announced he was withdrawing his bid for another term as RNC Chair, declaring that “the winds of change have come to the RNC.” The members give him a lengthy standing ovation for his service.
Before the third ballot, I asked one race-watcher, who had been saying it was a three-man race, who was toast. He responded, “Duncan’s a dead man walking.” [Prescient, it turns out.] Another smart political mind who has been watching this race from the beginning said that at this moment, Duncan could decide the next chairman by throwing his support (and his supporters, although they are not bound to follow his instructions) to another candidate. By the fifth ballot, Duncan may not be able to play the role of kingmaker because his supporters will have bled off to other candidates.
In his remarks, Duncan did not endorse a candidate. Of course, Duncan will be casting a vote as a member of the RNC from Kentucky. His departure scrambles the race, dispersing 44 supporters. It is not unthinkable, though not likely, that Steele could win it on this ballot. More likely, they will disperse enough to give new life to all four remaining candidates.
First Ballot: Duncan 52, Steele 46, Dawson 28, Anuzis 22, Blackwell 20
Second Ballot: Duncan 48, Steele 48, Dawson 29, Anuzis 24, Blackwell 19
Third Ballot: Steele 51, Duncan 44, Dawson 34, Anuzis 24, Blackwell 15
Steele gained three, Duncan lost four, Dawson gained five, Anuzis remained the same and Blackwell lost three.
It is not unthinkable that the race could come down to Dawson and Steele, and there are already murmurs of, “Can you imagine how the MSM’s coverage will be if the guy who was in the country club with a whites-only charter beats an African-American on the final ballot?”