Former Steele ally backs challenger in RNC race

A former ally of Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele announced Sunday he is supporting one of his top challengers in the chairmanship race. 

California RNC committeeman Shawn Steel said he is supporting Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, according to The Washington Post,  a further indication that Steele faces an extremely difficult path to secure another term as party head.

Out of the six candidates running, no clear favorite has emerged to take Steele's place. But Priebus has secured the most public commitments from the committee's 168 voting members. A candidate needs to win the votes of 85 members to become chairman.

The RNC will elect its new chairman within a month's time. Other candidates besides Steele and Priebus are former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner, former Bush administration official Maria Cino and ex-RNC political director Gentry Collins.

So far, Priebus has secured the backing of more than 20 members, announcing the support of three other committee members aside from Steel on Sunday.

Steel wrote in the letter announcing his support that his "Key interest is to do what is best for the party," explaining that Priebus "demonstrates his principles from the candidates he recruits and his heart. He's always on message. He understands how to win, and his work as chairman in Wisconsin is a great example."

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