"As Reagan said, 'Our nation is that shining city upon a hill, and we must work to keep it that way,'" Reince Priebus said, invoking the spirit of former President Ronald Reagan Friday afternoon as he accepted the RNC's nomination to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee.
After seven ballots, Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, secured the nomination with 97 votes, ahead of Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis (43) and GOP operative Maria Cino (28).
Just an hour before the final ballot was cast, chairman Michael Steele removed himself from the race after it became clear he would not be able to garner enough votes from RNC members to remain competitive in the race.
Priebus, a former member of Steele's inner circle, won the support of many grassroots supporters in his bid to become the RNC's next chairman. In fact, Steele pointedly refused to endorse Priebus upon exiting the race, instead throwing his support behind Cino. During the race, Priebus made clear that he stood opposed to many of the decisions his predecessor made and pledged to bring success similar to that of his tenure as Wisconsin's chairman to the national arena.
Perhaps the most difficult task ahead of the new chairman will be to reign in the party's finances which currently suffer under a $20 million debt in the wake of the 2010 midterm election cycle. Also at the top of Priebus' priority list will be reestablishing relationships with disillusioned donors which eroded under Steele's watch.
Priebus will also be charged with finding various ways to unite the different ideological wings of the party, most notably looking for a cooperative relationship with conservative tea partiers -- a sizable portion of the party's electoral base.
The term for RNC chairman is two years, meaning Priebus will lead the campaign organization through the 2012 election as Republicans hope to take back the White House from President Barack Obama.
Here is Priebus' video announcement of his candidacy which touts his leadership in turning Wisconsin red in 2010: