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Boehner endorses Cino to chair RNC

   WASHINGTON  -- House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday endorsed North Buffalo
native Maria Cino in her race to chair the Republican National Committee for
the next two years, saying she "knows what it takes to win."

   Boehner, the most powerful elected Republican in the country, also planned to hold a
reception tonight for Cino and the 168 members of the Republican National Committee,
who will elect a new party chairman later this week.

   The reception was scheduled to start an hour before the Tucson memorial service for
victims of Saturday's mass shooting. Boehner turned down President Obama's
invitation to join him at the memorial service, instead opting to attend the
previously scheduled reception.

   Cino is by far the best candidate to head the party, Boehner said in a
letter to committee members.

   "Maria's experience combined with her plans to register new voters, invest
in technology and support state party programs will assure donors that their
money will produce results," Boehner said.

   "Under her leadership as chairman, I am confident the RNC will once again
raise and effectively spend the funds needed to win the battle of ideas with
President Obama and his Democrat allies."

   The impact of Boehner's endorsement remains unclear. While the new speaker
is enormously popular with party figures in Washington, GOP leaders from
around the country -- who will vote for party chairman -- have been known to
exert their independence in leadership votes when a Republican president is
not pushing a candidate.

   Boehner's endorsement, combined with earlier support from former Vice
President Dick Cheney and longtime GOP talking head Mary Matalin, make Cino
the establishment candidate for the job.

   But as of Wednesday, only 12 of the Republican committee members have
publicly declared support for her. And GOP sources allied with the tea party
movement have criticized Cino for her ties to the big-spending George W. Bush
administration and her recent work as a lobbyist for the Pfizer drug

   Still, Cino could not have asked for a more glowing recommendation from a
more prominent Republican.

   Describing Cino as "exceptionally politically savvy," Boehner wrote: "The
race for RNC Chairman includes several experienced individuals with histories
of service to our country and our party who want to take on this challenge.
 But one of them stands out as having the most experience in leading the type
change the RNC leadership needs: Maria Cino."

   Boehner noted that he had worked with Cino for nearly 20 years. He credited
her with bringing the GOP its first House majority in 40 years when she ran
the Republican National Congressional Committee, and with managing the party's
successful 2008 convention in St. Paul, Minn.

   Republican sources said Boehner was also making phone calls on Cino's
behalf to RNC members.

   A graduate of Mount St. Joseph Academy and St. John Fisher College, Cino,
53,is one of five candidates to head the RNC.

   Michael S. Steele, whose two-year term as RNC chair has been marked by
controversial statements and lagging fundraising that's left a $20 million
debt at the party, is not expected to win re-election.

   The favorite in the race is Reince R. Priebus, the state party chair who
led Wisconsin Republicans to control in the State Legislature while also
winning the governorship, a U.S. Senate seat and several House seats last

-- Jerry Zremski

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