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Maintaining the gender balance


For the first time in RNC history, a committee rule requiring the chair and co-chair to be of opposite sexes may prove problematic for the winner, as viable female candidates are running for both positions.

"I think that rule is arcane and needs to be changed," former RNC co-chairman and current chair candidate, Ann Wagner, told NBC News following the RNC chair debate.

Maria Cino, who served as a Bush administration official, is also in the running and participated in the debate.

"I don’t think it’s a concern," Cino said when asked if she was concerned about the rule to ensure a gender balance in RNC leadership. "I think it’s certainly something that you can look at in 2012 the next time the party rules could be changed and I would be all for looking at those rules."

Those running for RNC co-chair may not know if they are eligible to run until the final votes are counted in the RNC Chair race. So even if Jan Larimer, the current co-chair, and Sharon Day, an RNC representative from Florida, can secure enough votes to win for co-chair, they would be prevented to run if Wagner or Cino win.

There has only been one female chair in the history of the RNC when Mary Louise Smith was appointed by President Ford in the 1970s. The co-chair position had not yet been created meaning there has never been a male to be second in command at the RNC.

Two potential male candidates for co-chair have begun to seek support: Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere and former North Dakota party chief Gary Emineth.

"Also," Wagner pointed out, "any one of the gentlemen running now for chairman, when I beat them and win chairman, they can also fall back and run for co-chairman."