Reince Priebus was elected Friday in a resounding vote to serve a third term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, putting him on course to become the longest serving head of the national party in history.
“It is an honor and it is also a huge responsibility for me to finish the chapter here in rebuilding the Republican National Committee,” Priebus said in an interview during the RNC’s Winter Meeting. The vote was 166 to 2.
Priebus is credited with helping put the RNC on firm financial footing leading into the 2014 elections when the GOP made significant gains in Congress and state Houses across the country.
Priebus took over the national party in 2011, winning in a crowded field of Republican insiders all vying to lead the national party. The RNC was $25 million in debt when he took over, and Priebus successfully helped to erase it by convincing wealthy GOP donors to start contributing again following the controversial chairmanship of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.
After the 2012 election, Priebus focused the RNC’s efforts on upgrading the committee’s technological infrastructure and voter data as well as outreach to minority communities. He commissioned a report, the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” that outlined ways for the GOP to grow its base. Republicans largely embraced the report, but social conservatives opposed a recommendation that the party be more tolerant of people who are gay.
“I think that winning a third term means I have a massive responsibility to rebuild our party, to put our nominee in the best position possible and not repeat the same result that happened in 2012,” Priebus said in the interview. “What this means is that it is a do or die moment for our party. If we don’t win in 2016, I have a terrible feeling the national party doesn’t exist in the same way that it is today.”