Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele has abandoned his bid to remain in his post, bowing to the reality that he does not have the support for another term. Voting continues to determine his replacement.
"I'm grateful to have served with one of the best RNC committees in a long, long time," Steele said earlier in the day.
The former Maryland lieutenant governor was seeking a second term after a tumultuous tenure. He defended his record, touting the million new donors the party attracted, the electoral gains of the past year and investments in technology and infrastructure the party can use going forward. But, he acknowledged, the party faces a tough task in the 2012 election.
Steele encouraged his supporter to support former Bush administration official Maria Cino.
"Now the task becomes harder, because Pres. Obama is waiting for you. The Democrat Party is waiting for you," he said. "I know the work that lies ahead will be challenging."
Steele entered the annual meeting with about a quarter of the committee supporting his bid for re-election. After the first ballot, however, his supporters began to slowly abandon him.