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GOP watch: Previewing Friday's RNC chair contest

The New York Times: "As Republican officials from across the country gather for their winter meeting, five candidates are competing for those votes. The arm-twisting that has been under way for weeks has given way to last-ditch persuasion, with the voting by secret ballot to begin on Friday."

Roll Call’s table-setter: “When the Republican National Committee met in Washington, D.C., two years ago, the party was coming off two brutal election cycles and looking for a road map out of the political wilderness. After a highly successful midterm cycle, the circumstances have changed heading into 2012. As the RNC meets in the Washington area again this week, its goal is to begin preparations for a well-funded and organized presidential election cycle. That groundwork starts in earnest Friday with the selection of a chairman to lead the party through the presidential nomination.”

Rothenberg Political Report’s Nathan Gonzales warns, “Republicans are in danger of entering the next stage of redistricting at a significant financial disadvantage thanks to a cash-strapped Republican National Committee and a high-profile outside group that never got off the ground.”

Speaker John Boehner endorsed former Bush official Maria Cino officially for RNC chair. But influence from outside the committee’s 168 members is limited. Case in point, Boehner placed a call last week to a Connecticut committeeman on behalf of Cino, and that committeeman came out for someone else instead.