As Reince Priebus prepares to serve as chief of staff in the Trump White House, Republicans are already gearing up to find a replacement for his current job as RNC chairman. Priebus will be making the transition in January 2017 and a host of candidates are vying for the RNC’s top spot.
There is a feeling of a last minute scramble as the GOP hopes to find a perfect candidate. Before his appointment, Priebus was looking to run for an unprecedented fourth term and was poised to win. Many in the GOP have been happy with his leadership and no real opposition was brewing. However, the position is up for grabs as Reince is walking out.
While the Republican president (if in office) has authority in choosing who the RNC chair will be - Trump’s case may be different. Reince is expected to have outsized influence in who his successor will be. He reportedly had no interest in leaving if he felt his position would fall into the hands of someone he vehemently opposed – namely Corey Lewandowski.
The current front runners of the fledgling race: Matt Pinnell – the national party’s current liaison to state parties, David Bossie – an RNC member and served as Trump’s deputy campaign manager, Georgia RNC Committeeman Randy Evans, and Ronna Romney McDaniel – chair of the Michigan Republican Party and niece of Mitt Romney.
To be clear, McDaniel rebuked her uncle (the 2012 Republican nominee) by penning an article in the Deseret News in support of Trump’s candidacy – a move the president-elect loved. Trump refers to McDaniel as “my Romney.”
Kellyanne Conway is another choice being whispered around Republican circles. Although she is expected to take a position in Trump’s Cabinet, she may very well lead the RNC if Trump asks. The president-elect is very trusting of Conway and the two would lead the Party comfortably together.
Many in the RNC are interpreting Priebus’ departure from the RNC chairmanship as a sign that he is not afraid Lewandowski would succeed him. Despite the fact Trump could technically name anyone he wants, Priebus has most certainly been a voice in the president-elect’s ear. He does not want Lewandowski, who he views as inexperienced, to be the next leader of the RNC.
Priebus will serve in his current post for another two months, so there is still plenty of time for the race to play out and other candidates to emerge. In the end, it will be for Trump to decide.