Anti-Steele heavyweight endorses Priebus in RNC race
December 14th, 2010
12:41 PM ET
11 years ago

Anti-Steele heavyweight endorses Priebus in RNC race

Washington (CNN) - A day after Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele confounded his critics by announcing that he will seek re-election, one of his biggest foes threw his weight behind the candidate thought to have the best chance of replacing Steele atop the committee.

Former New Jersey committeman David Norcross, something of a ringleader within the RNC's anti-Steele crowd, co-authored a message Tuesday to the committee's 168 members endorsing Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus. The message was co-signed by former Wisconsin committeeman Michael Grebe.

Norcross and Grebe heaped praise on Priebus for his work electing Republicans in Wisconsin and said he proved his mettle nationally while serving as RNC General Counsel under Steele.

"Reince ran one of the best ground operations in the country," they wrote in the email, obtained by CNN. "He stayed true to a conservative message, handled media professionally and raised a great deal of money. Most importantly, Reince is a conservative who gives everything that he does 110%. The RNC needs a Chairman who is dedicated to that principle."

Both men are former RNC general counsels, a position Priebus held until he resigned earlier this month to run for chairman at the urging of a cadre of Steele allies and enemies.

The endorsement is significant because the crop of RNC candidates will be jockeying over the next four weeks to prove themselves as the most viable alternative to Steele, who controls roughly 30-40 votes on the committee. The election, to be held in mid-January, will likely be decided on multiple rounds of balloting.

Norcross' voice carries significant weight among the hard line Steele opponents, and his endorsement should help cement Priebus' stature as the frontrunner to take over the reigns of the committee from Steele. Priebus has already lined up support from several key Steele allies.

Priebus is also thought to have the tacit support of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former RNC chairman, because Barbour's nephew and political adviser, Mississippi committeeman Henry Barbour, is supporting the Wisconsinite. Priebus has also managed to peel off some of Steele's supporters.

Also seeking the chairmanship: Michigan committeeman Saul Anuzis, former Missouri GOP Chairwoman, former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins and former Bush administration official Maria Cino. Norcross, who left the committee earlier this year, was also considering his own bid for a time.

UPDATE: Another committee veteran and Steele critic, Iowa committeeman Steve Scheffler, told CNN Tuesday he is also backing Priebus. The endorsement was first reported by

UPDATE 2: Supporters of Ann Wagner were quick to point out that she also picked up a nice endorsement Tuesday, that of Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney.

Devaney is a former Steele ally now changing teams. Devaney called Wagner "the right person for the job, someone who can hit the ground running and start work on retiring the enormous debt and rebuild the political organization at the RNC."

And unlike Norcross, Devaney is an actual voting member of the RNC.

Filed under: Michael Steele • Reince Priebus • RNC
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Democrats Class Warfare - Destroying the economy and country

    Steele appears to be toast at this point. Not sure why he decided to run again. People were probably only lukewarm about him anyways and then with all his gaffes I think they went cold quickly. I don't think the number of seats they won on Nov. 2 can be attributed to Steele as much as to Obozo, Reid and Pelosi.

    December 14, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. mike4ever

    Steele as given the post because the republicans was so mad that a miniority won the white house that they could not even see straight. They wanted to brush the racism and hatred that they felt for Obama under the rug, that they thought this would take the heat off of them. They used Steele to promote their agenda to hurt Obama and by continue to vote No on everything, they felt they could say hey we are not racist because we have a black man in lead in our party. But everything they have done has been race related and they used the innocent people who still live in the past to gain seats in the midterm. Now they don't need Steele and afraid if they keep him they will never be able to get rid of Obama in 2012.

    Steele may have been the best weapon they had, but now they will be left out in the cold, because their followers are going to see that republicans to continue to say No, but in their haste to continue that path, they will help Obama get reelected and more bills pass that will help american people. They will be so busy trying to react ways to get rid of the president and the president will be putting forth bills to help the people and when the republicans realize it, it will be too late and the president will be in for his second term and making way for the democratic president.

    December 14, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. beevee

    Looks like the RNC is bent on replacing Mr. Steele with some one who is them. Tough luck Mr. Steele.

    December 14, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. NVa Native

    Once the Repubs realized they don't need to hide behind a black guy to spin rascist lies about and throw biggoted remarks at our President – Steele was done.
    The Repub use every dirty trick in the book, and few new ones, then cry foul and try to blame the other party for their evil deeds – they are the party of faux vicitims. Like that silly term they tried to get into our language "reverse rascism".
    Repubs – "The Stupid people who brought you, and keep bringing you – the Palins"

    December 14, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Laverne

    Obama won the presidency because of the economy (and silly Sarah), the republicans won back control of the house because of the economy so both parties should get off their high horses thinking they did anything great. The country is not in the financial trouble we are in because of the poor people, we are in the financial mess because of the so called rich/greedy people and the clowns who call the shots in Washington.

    December 14, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. truth

    It's time for Mr. Charlie to vote Uncle Tom out of his leadership position. Fasten your seatbelt everybody, the rubber is about to meet the road and Steele will not go quietly. He knew those sheetless Klans did not really want him to lead their party. He was used and now he will be abused; however, these Klans have their work cut out for them for a snake will bite anyone who steps on him.

    December 14, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. XWngLady

    Hey Mike (Mr. Steele), the Republicans managed to lie and manipulate themselves into big gains in the midterms and now they think that they've got Pres. Obama on the ropes. So guess what? THEY DON'T NEED YOU ANYMORE! They never really wanted you. They hired you as a "counter" to the Democrats' "black man" in power (President Obama) and It backfired. You are not now and will never be Mr. Obama. And now you're irrelevant to them.....So, buh-bye.....And we hate to say it, but...We told you so.

    December 14, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |