1. FRONT-RUNNER UNDER ATTACK. Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus has taken a clear lead in his bid to lead the Republican National Committee, as rivals react by questioning his record and his judgment. Priebus has scored 30 public endorsements so far, more than a third of the 85 votes he would need to win the chairmanship outright. Now, RNC members who support other candidates are beginning to launch increasingly public questions about Priebus's tenure as RNC general counsel and his close ties to incumbent Michael Steele. And unlike anonymous attacks that take aim at all the candidates on a daily basis, the shots launched at Priebus are signed by RNC voters. Read more »
2. COLLINS DROPS OUT. Former RNC political director Gentry Collins will end his bid to become the next chairman of the party, he said late Sunday night. Collins, who resigned from his position in November with a letter offering a scathing commentary on Steele's leadership, said he entered the race to provide an alternative to Steele. But the entry of other qualified candidates helped Collins toward an exit. Read more »
3. THE GREAT DEBATE. Collins's departure means Steele will face four candidates as he seeks another two-year term in office. All five candidates -- Steele, Priebus, former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis, former RNC co-chairman Ann Wagner, and former Bush administration official and 2008 Republican convention organizer Maria Cino -- will meet for a debate today at the National Press Club. The debate is being organized by Americans for Tax Reform and the Daily Caller.