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Buying the RNC chairmanship?

January 27, 2009 | 10:17 am

As members of the Republican National Committee arrive in Washington today to pick a new leader, they arrive to snow on the ground and a meltdown in their own internal battles over the party's future.

Having taken a beating in the last two national elections, you'd think few people would covet the job of chairman the Grand Old Party. But five contenders for the post -- including the incumbent, Mike Duncan, -- have thrown their hats in the ring.

Now The Hill newspaper is reporting that the competition is so heated that two of the candidates -- Duncan and Ken Blackwell, the black conservative former secretary of State in Ohio -- have started doling out favors and horse-trading promises of future work. In an article called "Let's Make A Deal," Reid Wilson reports that Duncan has been especially aggressive in corralling votes.

Duncan has been the most aggressive in doling out favors, according to several sources. He has already pledged to put staffers in each state, and surrogates have been handing out money at fortuitous times, the sources said. Duncan’s aides deny that money has been offered. They said the chairman has only discussed how much it would cost to place a staffer in each state as part of Duncan’s “Partnership 2010,” which would send one staffer to each state in an effort to duplicate Democrats’ 50-state strategy.

Duncan's staff denies any wrongdoing, noting that he is still chairman of the party, so it's perfectly legitimate for him to talk to party chairmen about how much it would cost to put staffers in their states.

But Duncan's biggest problem could be the conflict in his message -- an incumbent campaigning for change.

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-- Johanna Neuman