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On the seventh round of balloting, the Republican National Committee elected Reince Priebus to be its next chairman.

Priebus won 97 votes, followed by Saul Anuzis with 43 and Maria Cino with 28. Michael Steele and Ann Wagner dropped out earlier.

Priebus becomes the 65th chair of the RNC, and takes over a committee that had something of a tumultuous two years with Steele at the helm.

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After slipping into last place in the RNC chairman's race, Missouri Republican Ann Wagner has dropped out, and released her supporters to back...nobody in particular.

"It is time that this committee heal and unify and remember that it is our job to beat Barack Obama in 2012," Wagner said. "I release my supporters, because I respect this process, very, very much, to do what they feel they should do in their heart."

If five of her backers move into Reince Priebus' camp, and he bleeds no support, he'll wrap this thing up.

Ok, we're getting down to the wire here at the RNC chairman's election. In the sixth ballot, Reince Priebus has consolidated the support of 80 committee members. He needs 85.

The full tally:

Priebus: 80 Anuzis: 37 Cino: 34 Wagner: 17

Steele's endorsement of Maria Cino went nowhere, but she's still too close to Anuzis to fathom all three of them teaming up to take Priebus down.

After ballot five, some real movement.

The overall tally, in descending order:

Priebus: 67 Cino: 40 Wagner: 28 Anuzis: 32 Anonymous, Ineligible Write-In: 1

Steele's bid to throw support to Maria Cino doesn't seem to have worked out exactly as he planned. Instead it appears that under half of his supporters broke for Cino, the rest for Priebus. Now Priebus is really closing in on the magic number, 85. It's a question of whether Wagner and Anuzis supporters accept him as Steele's successor, or decide to play queenmaker for Cino.

Michael Steele just dropped out of his race for a second term as RNC chairman and threw his support to Maria Cino, who came in second place after the fourth ballot here at the GOP's winter meeting in National Harbor, MD.

"I will step aside because I think the party is ready for something different," Steele said.

Thus ended Steele's at times disastrous, at times hilarious, at times gobsmacking tenure as the face of the Republican party.

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The fourth ballot has been counted in the RNC Chairman's race, and we're still stuck, with Priebus enjoying a modest, but by no means overwhelming lead.

The overall tally, in descending order:

Priebus: 58 Cino: 29 Steele: 28 Wagner: 28 Anuzis: 24 Anonymous Write-In: 1

Priebus enjoys a small, four vote gain. If somebody doesn't drop out soon and endorse him, we're in for a long night. Speculation is that Steele will throw his support to Wagner, which would put her in a dead heat with Priebus. Stay tuned.

As TPM was first to report Wednesday, conservatives found themselves up in arms about T-shirts that were given out during the Tucson memorial for victims of last Saturday's shooting.

Some said the T-shirts, which read "Together We Thrive: Tucson & America," were an inappropriate political statement orchestrated by the White House, since President Obama spoke at the memorial.

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The third ballot has been cast in the RNC Chairman's race, and the winner, again, is Reince Priebus, with 54 votes.

The overall tally, in descending order:

Priebus: 54 Steele: 33 Wagner: 32 Cino: 28 Anuzis: 21

Strange results. Cino's lost all momentum, and Wagner's slowly climbing, but Priebus isn't building on his lead.





Optimists of the country take note! In the wake of the tragedy in Arizona, could it be that our nation's leaders and media figures may actually try to turn down the hate. First people from both parties united to appreciate President Obama's memorial speech. Then a plan was set in place to end the partisan seating arrangements that have, for years, plagued State of the Union Addresses like the awkward gender split at middle school dance (beware of bipartisan cooties!). Now, Fox News' Chris Wallace is making the startling assertion that we should discuss the health care law without the use of terms like "socialist" and "fascist." Whoa.

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