RNC Chair Reince Priebus to seek second term

Reince Priebus

With the presidential election finally over and analysts still guessing what went wrong for Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced on Friday that he will seek a second term in that post:

Mr. Priebus, who took over the RNC in 2011, announced his intentions in an email to party leaders, a majority of whom have already pledged to support the chairman, according to a letter first reported by Politico.

The Wisconsin Republican’s track record at the RNC is mixed. On the one hand, Mr. Priebus took over the RNC when it was some $22 million in debt with a nearly empty bank account. As of Oct. 17, the party carried $9.9 million in debt and had $67.6 million to spend. On the other, Mitt Romney lost the presidential race and several GOP Senate candidates lost their races, too.

Mr. Priebus is not expected to face any serious opposition and no one else has announced a campaign for the post.

While Priebus doesn’t have a challenger, his role in shutting down grassroots activists at the Republican National Convention hasn’t been forgotten. The rule changes pushed through by establishment Republicans were intended to disenfranchise. While scrolling Twitter, I caught this from Richard Viguerie, a still influential figure in the conservative movement:

Viguerie contends, as many others do, that Republicans won’t have near as much success without the Tea Party movement, inferring that Priebus and the GOP establishment put that relationship in jeopardy. Likewise, Tim Carney recently explained that the relationship between Republicans the Tea Party movement is “uneasy” at the moment.

Carney notes that the candidacies of now-Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz as well as outside groups that spent millions supporting their campaigns pose a challenge for establishment Republicans.

Priebus may well win re-election, but the skepticism towards the RNC from the grassroots is not going anywhere and, with another cycle around the corner, insurgent Tea Party candidates will continue to plague the GOP.

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