Maria Cino, who ran 2008 Republican National Convention, might run for party head

There may be another candidate for Republican National Committee chair with St. Paul ties, as the national party consolidates its election wins and looks ahead at its prospects with the newly-added Tea Partiers.

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor, has been mentioned for months as a possible challenger to embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Now there’s word that Maria Cino is testing the waters, too, along with a host of others.

The RNC will elect a chairman in mid-January to serve a two-year term, and Steele has said he’s running again.

Cino’s long been a fixture in national Republican politics but lived in St. Paul for much of 2007 and 2008, as the person in charge of arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

She had a succession of key Republican Party posts and was executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the mid-1990s. She then was national political director for President Bush’s first campaign in 1999-2000, deputy chairman for political and congressional relations with the RNC in 2000 and deputy chair of the RNC in 2003-2004.

Bush appointed her assistant secretary and director general of the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, where she supervised 1,700 employees and had a budget of $200 million. And President Bush appointed her deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she served from 2005 to 2007, and a short stint as acting secretary of transportation during a transition period.

In addition to Coleman and Cino, there’s a slew of others listed as possible candidates for Steele’s job, including former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy, Katon Dawson from South Carolina, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, former Nevada Gov. Robert List, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

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