Now garnering backing from 50 or fewer of the 168 RNC members -- he'd need at least 85 to win reelection -- the former Maryland lieutenant governor kept his own counsel on the decision until the last minute and has come a long way from the combative figure who once dared members of the party to oust him if they didn't like his style.
"I'm the chairman. Deal with it," he'd told a radio host in response to intra-party sniping as recently as July.
Here's how the man in charge of the GOP committee during Republicans' record electoral year damaged his own reputation -- and why his bid for election won't be an easy one:
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