[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/art.rnc.gi.jpg caption="Saltsman is out of the RNC race."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – There are now just five candidates in the race to chair the Republican National Committee.
Chip Saltsman, the former Tennessee GOP chairman who managed Mike Huckabee’s underdog presidential campaign, is out of the running after failing to garner enough support to file as an official candidate.
According to committee rules, each of the six contenders for chairman were required to submit a list of at least three “nominating states” by 5 P.M. ET on Thursday, meaning a candidate must demonstrate support from a majority of committee members in at least three different states.
Saltsman did not file to run for chair by the deadline, according to an RNC aide. He did not make an appearance at the Thursday session of the RNC Winter Meeting in Washington, where the rest of the candidates were busy whipping up votes.
An aide to Saltsman did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Saltsman stumbled out the gate in the weeks after launching his bid when he sent party members a parody CD that included a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.” Under the weight of the negative media attention that followed, he failed to attract a single public endorsement from an RNC member.
UPDATE: Saltsman's letter to supporters announcing he's dropping out after the jump
Since November's election, I've had the remarkable opportunity to travel throughout thirty two states, share my vision for the future of our party, and listen to the advice of the nearly one hundred members who took the time to visit with me in their homes, their offices, their airports, and their coffee shops.
I've seen how the Clark County Republicans of Nevada are organizing online to defeat Harry Reid in 2010, as we defeated Tom Daschle in 2002.
I've heard how Republicans in the District of Columbia have expanded their membership simply by holding their meetings and spreading their message in communities that have long shared our values, but which have never felt welcome within our ranks.
I've witnessed how the hard work of Republican leadership in my home of Tennessee has given our state its first Republican General Assembly since 1869.
And I've met with Republicans in New England's blue states who are ready to plant our party's flag and prove that our coalition is broad enough, strong enough to compete everywhere and win anywhere.
But, while my travels make me confident in our party's future, I wanted you to be first to know that I have decided to withdraw my candidacy to become your next chairman.
Thank you for your passion for our party and for the principles that make it great. I hope that you won't hesitate to call on me as we rebuild our majority.