ABC’s Michael Falcone reports:
Maria Cino, the long-time GOP political operative who ran the 2008 Republican National Convention and served in the Bush administration, is “leaning toward announcing” a bid for RNC chair shortly after Thanksgiving, a source close to her said on Thursday.
Cino has been “giving serious consideration” to a run, the source said, and put the Web site, MariaforChairman.com, on reserve should she officially throw her hat into the ring, according to the source who requested anonymity in order to speak openly about Cino’s deliberations.
Cino, who previously served as both deputy chairman of the RNC and executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is in the process of reaching out to some of the RNC’s 168 voting committee members and will not announce her decision until more of those discussions have taken place.
Current RNC Chairman Michael Steele has yet to announce he is running for another term as chairman, but former Michigan GOP head Saul Anuzis has already launched a challenge. And other possible hopefuls, including former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Connecticut Republican Party head Chris Healy and former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, are also said to be considering whether to seek the job.
Cino served as deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush and went on to become CEO of the 2008 Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn. She was also political director for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Along the way, she became a friend of soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner and confidante of numerous party leaders.
“The RNC has never been in worse shape, and there is no more qualified or experienced person to fix it than Cino,” GOP political strategist Mary Matalin said in an e-mail message. “These are no ordinary times and she is an extraordinary talent, who would — and has — excelled at every function the RNC must deliver for the critical 2012 elections, from fundraising to beefing up the state parties — where the rubber really hits the road — to aggressive recruitment and cutting edge GOTV.”
Matalin added, “She comes with a turn-key group of professionals, who would kill to work with her at the RNC.”
The source who spoke on Cino’s behalf cited the “relationships with big donors” she has cultivated over the years as a key selling point for her candidacy. Since 2008, Cino has been working in the private sector and lives in Northern Virginia.