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Boehner Making Calls for Maria Cino

Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made at least one call to advocate for Republican National Committee chairman candidate Maria Cino, quietly inserting himself into the crowded race just as he is about to assume the gavel.

Boehner talked to Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy this week about Cino’s candidacy. A Republican source told Roll Call that Boehner first left a voice mail encouraging Healy to support Cino in the chairman’s race, which will be decided Jan. 14.

Healy said in an interview that the Ohio Republican called him about the RNC race, but Healy declined to name the candidate Boehner was promoting.

“I discussed the candidates with the Speaker,” Healy said. “I was very flattered that he called. I’m not going to talk about what he talked about, other than that he wants to make sure the RNC was in good hands and doing the right thing.”

Asked specifically about whether Boehner was making calls for Cino, spokesman Michael Steel would only offer “no comment.”

Boehner, a friend of Cino’s at least since she ran the National Republican Congressional Committee in the mid-1990s, previously said he wouldn’t endorse a candidate for RNC chairman.

Cino has six public supporters among the party officials who will make the pick, according to the Hotline’s RNC whip count. Like former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis and former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner, she is campaigning as an alternative to current Chairman Michael Steele, whose tenure has been fraught with controversy and problems with fundraising.

Healy, a Steele critic who briefly considered a run for the chairmanship himself, originally endorsed former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins for chairman. Since Collins dropped out of the race over the weekend, though, he’s looking for a new candidate. He has already eliminated Steele and Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, the former RNC general counsel who managed Steele’s 2009 bid for RNC chairman.

“As they say, I’m weighing all the options,” Healy said. “I can tell you who I’m not going to vote for is Reince Priebus, but I’m still talking with the other candidates that I know.”

Holly Hughes, the Michigan committeewoman who is running Steele’s re-election bid, told Roll Call that she wasn’t aware of any Members of Congress who were making calls on behalf of RNC candidates.

“It’s a decision for the 168” RNC members, she said.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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