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Major Garrett: Ronna Romney McDaniel top contender for RNC chair

Donald Trump’s leading pick to lead the Republican National Committee (RNC) is Ronna Romney McDaniel, three GOP sources tell CBS News.

The selection of Romney, the niece of Mitt Romney, is thought to have the strategic value of minimizing agitation in‎ Romney world if, as expected, the former 2012 GOP nominee is passed over for secretary of state in favor of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

She is also a favorite of outgoing chair Reince ‎Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff. Those close to the deliberations suggest Priebus wants both an ally in the RNC chair and also someone who is familiar with and generally acceptable to the RNC membership. Romney McDaniel is currently the Michigan GOP chair.

As with so much in the Trump transition, decisions are not final until Mr. Trump decides. That is the only remaining variable in the RNC chair selection.

“She is right on the verge,” one source close to the process said of McDaniel. “She is the expected choice.” 

‎Said another top GOP source of McDaniel: “She is being floated to measure the push-back, if any. Absent some change, yes, she will be it.”

‎The RNC executive committee chooses the RNC chair, but Trump’s endorsement will drive that vote, scheduled for January. 

As deliberations continue, the possibility of naming as party co-chair Nick Ayers has emerged. Ayers was once the front-runner for the RNC post. McDaniel rose in response to the rising stock of Tillerson for Secretary of State.

Ayers is the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association and close ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. ‎The final role team Pence plays in this particular intra-party struggle could prove vital to its outcome.