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.
To his supporters, he said, “I asked them to stand with me in supporting Maria Cino.”
In the fourth ballot, Cino came in one point ahead of Steele with 29 votes, but significantly behind Priebus at 58. Priebus was once a close Steele ally. But that relationship frayed when Priebus entered the race for the chairmanship. Steele’s move is designed to blunt Priebus’ momentum.
To a standing ovation of RNC members, Steele mournfully told the crowd, “and now I exit stage right.”
Watch the video below:
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.