Reince Priebus

Republican National Committee chairman (since January 2011)

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Why He Matters

Reince Priebus (whose first name is pronounced with a long i sound, as in "rind," and his last name with a long e sound, as in "free") was elected chairman of the national Republican Party in January 2011, succeeding embattled former RNC head Michael Steele. As such, he may help the national party bring the tea party into the fold.

Previously, Priebus was the top legal counsel at the Republican National Committee (RNC).He resigned his post in late 2010 and annouced he'd challenge his former boss, Steele, for the chairmanship.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Chairman, Wisconsin Republican Party (2007 to 2011); Candidate for State Senate (2004); Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP (since 1998)
  • Hometown: Kenosha, Wisc.
  • Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, B.S., cum laude, 1994; University of Miami School of Law, J.D., 1998
  • Spouse: Sally Priebus

Path To Power

Priebus was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He stayed in his home state for college, attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Priebus became president of the student body and earned his bachelor's degree cum laude in 1994.

After college, Priebus spent a year working for the Wisconsin Legislature as a legislative assistant to three state lawmakers. He was also the committee clerk for the Assembly Education Committee.

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The Issues

Priebus, a rising star, has pledged to be a no-drama antidote to Steele's effusive and gaffe-prone tenure.

In a December 2010 letter announcing his candidacy for RNC chairman, Priebus promised "Less drama, more hard work, more results and more focus on winning."

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The Network

Priebus was an early ally of Michael Steele. He was among the first RNC delegates to publicly announce support for Steele ahead of the 2009 RNC chair elections.

When Steele won, he brought Priebus on board the national RNC as an adviser. But in 2010, Priebus announced he would quit the RNC to challenge his former boss for the chairmanship. He won the endorsement of Henry Barbour, which was seen by some as an implicit endorsement from Barbour's uncle, Gov. Haley Barbour (R).

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Campaign Contributions

Preibus has often donated money to the Republican Party of Wisconsin and to Wisconsin candidates, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)