As soon as Ken Blackwell said in his withdrawal address that the Republican Party had to be “the party of Lincoln,” a murmur of “he’s endorsing Steele” ran through the crowd around me.
The next ballot put Steele in the driver’s seat, and Anuzis became the distant third. It seems all 15 Blackwell backers followed their preferred candidate’s emphatic endorsement. Blackwell was running as “the outspoken conservative” in the race; his backing of Steele would seem to have deflected much of the “Steele is too moderate” talk.
The fifth ballot was Steele 79, Dawson 69, Anuzis 20. Then Anuzis stepped to the stage, withdrawing, and endorsing neither rival.
This ballot, cast now, will settle it; Steele, only needing 6 out 20, has the easier path to victory. We will know momentarily. The perception on press row is that Steele will win, but we will see.
UPDATE: There is a big crowd around Steele, only two people around Dawson. Read into that what you will.
On press row, someone just noticed it’s possible for the vote to end in a 84-84 tie. Great.