Reince Priebus, who took over as GOP chairman in 2011, is now the longest serving GOP chairman in party history. Here are nine things you need to know about him.
1. Priebus is originally from Wisconsin. A political science and English cum laude graduate from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as well as a cum laude graduate from University of Miami School of Law, Priebus ran for the state senate in 2004 and lost to the incumbent, Democrat Robert Wirch, even though Priebus had more money. In 2007, Priebus was elected as chairman of the state Republican Party.
2. Priebus was the Republican National Committee's general counsel when Michael Steele was their chairman. Steele is known for making horrific gaffes and the RNC was $20 million in debt by the end of his term. Priebus was known as Steele's "wingman" before he decided to challenge Steele in January 2011. Ever since, the two have traded barbs at each other.
3. Priebus has raised almost $850 million during his tenure as RNC chairman. He is also credited with "huge investments in data, minority outreach and voter-registration efforts in swing states," according to Politico Magazine. However, he has drawn much criticism as chairman for the following reasons:
4. Priebus outlined an autopsy report following the 2012 loss...and proceeded to abandon it this election cycle. Here is in part what the autopsy read:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012.
As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, "You can't call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We've chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home."
Needless to say, that all went out the window now that Donald Trump is the party's standard-bearer.
5. Priebus didn't lift a finger to help Ken Cuccinelli win the Virginia governor's race in 2013. Radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin exposed and excoriated Priebus for it. Priebus's unwillingness to aid Cuccinelli lead to the election of Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe, who recently made it harder for the GOP to win the state by allowing felons to vote.
6. One of the main reasons Trump won the primary is due to how Priebus structured the system. Politico Magazine has this important passage in their piece on Priebus:
Only nine RNC members opposed Priebus as he also moved to front-load the calendar and shorten the period before states were allowed to hold winner-take-all contests, all in effort to enable the front-runner to reach the delegate threshold needed to clinch the nomination more quickly.
The piece goes onto say that this helped propel Trump to the nomination following his string of victories on Super Tuesday, although the Politico piece tries to excuse it as "the unfair benefit of hindsight."
7. Trump repeatedly told Priebus his whining about a "rigged system" was nothing more than a "talking point." According to the Politico piece:
Behind the scenes, Priebus was trying to build a relationship with the man emerging as the GOP front-runner. But Trump was, after all, running against a “rigged” primary system. Toward the end of March, when he was questioning whether the party would deal with him fairly and as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz out-maneuvered him in the delegate hunt, Trump suggested to his supporters that the GOP was trying to steal his nomination. When the cameras were off, though, Trump’s rancor softened as he began talking to the chairman on a daily basis.
“He’d be bashing us publicly but then he’d say, ‘You’re doing a great job, just keep it up,’” said an RNC staffer privy to some of those phone calls. “We came to understand that railing against us was just a talking point.”
In other words, Trump and the RNC were throwing mud at each other during the primary over the "rigged system," comments they knew were nothing more than rhetoric Trump was using to win the primary.
8. Priebus now has even more power as chairman after the convention. For example, Rule 12 now allows any rule changes to be approved solely by the RNC, and not the delegates at the convention, as Conservative Review's Rob Eno explains here.
9. There have been calls for Priebus to be fired. Back in October, Levin called for Priebus to be fired, as did The Daily Wire's James Barrett. Given Priebus's latest power grab at the convention, there will likely be more calls for his ouster to come.