Maria Cino for RNC Chairman
[December 2010-January 2011]

A Path to Victory In 2012
A Path To Victory In 2012 is a series of action plan drafts developed by Maria Cino in consultation with Members of the Republican National Committee to illustrate how she would lead as Chairman of the RNC and address several of our most significant challenges to be better positioned to support Republican victories in two years. 
Saving the Republican National Convention
Restoring Accountability
Securing Financial Strength
Reinvigorating Voter Programs
Renew Our Technology Advantage

Saving the Republican National Convention

Once every four years, Republicans come together at our Republican National Convention to choose our Presidential nominee, recommit to our conservative values, and construct the rules by which our party will operate for the next four years.

It’s a grand, inspiring spectacle of democracy in action where, as one united party, we proudly showcase our spirit and principles to millions of Americans nationwide.

I was proud to have the honor of serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Committee on Arrangements (COA) for the 2008 Republican National Convention. In preparing for and managing that special event, I made sure the Committee on Arrangements was intricately involved in planning decisions, that Republicans received value for every dollar spent, that we maximized every media opportunity, and produced a Convention that was enjoyable for all RNC Members, delegates and guests, and gave our nominee the momentum necessary, as he emerged from Minneapolis-St. Paul, to run a competitive campaign.

The reviews from RNC Members were clear: We succeeded on all fronts. And, we closed the books on the 2008 Republican National Convention, after the routine, mandatory Federal Election Commission audit, successfully under budget and with a surplus.

Where We Stand Now

Recent news reports indicate that preparations for our 2012 Republican National Convention are far, far off track; in fact, we are in crisis.

Through September, its lead manager had already spent almost $640,000 in Federal Election Commission (FEC) provided dollars, the most important funding the COA has; $640,000 is eighteen times the amount the 2008 Convention had paid out at the same point.

In addition having no Convention experience, the current “RNC liaison to the Convention” added her sister and son to the payroll. Some of the extravagant expenses include spending tens of thousands of dollars on the rental of a luxurious waterfront home where the “RNC liaison to the Convention” is now living.

Because of FEC limits, this money is gone and cannot be replaced. Decisions made on the 4th floor of the RNC by current and recent leadership have already seriously limited our next Presidential nominee’s opportunity to maximize the largest media week our Party has during the 2012 election cycle to give voters our vision for America’s future.

What We Must Do Now

Action needs to be taken immediately to save the 2012 Republican National Convention.    As RNC Chairman, I would take the following actions:

•    Replace the current “RNC liaison to the Convention” immediately with a qualified, experienced Convention Manager.

•    Immediately convene an Emergency COA Budget Committee of specially appointed RNC Members to issue a “State of the COA Report” after conducting an extensive audit that will:
•    The Emergency COA Budget Committee would present a “State of the COA Report” to the full RNC Membership within 30 days and provide recommendations for fixing what is broken.

•    Meet as soon as possible with the 2012 Tampa Host Committee and update them on the change in leadership and plans moving forward. Weekly coordination meetings would begin as soon as the new COA Convention Manager is in place.

•    Passage of a COA amendment stating no relative of RNC or COA senior staff may be employed in a paid COA staff position.

Our Long-Term Convention Focus

I truly understand that the partnership between COA Members and COA staff is crucial. Working hand-in-hand with COA Chair Jo Ann Davidson during my time as President & CEO of the 2008 Convention, our senior leadership team ensured COA Members had regular briefings and input into major planning decisions. To ensure that our 2012 Convention also succeeds in its mission to showcase our Republican ideas, values and vision to the American people, we need to expand RNC Member input. To accomplish this, I would continue to expand COA Member involvement as follows:

•    A broader series of meetings and conference calls with COA and RNC Members where COA staff provides updates and receives input. These would include project timelines, updates and progress reports to COA and RNC Members from COA staff, to allow full access for Members to ascertain Convention progress.

•    Creation of a COA Budget Committee, after the appropriate actions by the Emergency COA Budget Committee, with oversight of expenditures and continual budget updates from COA staff to track expenditures.

•    Reorganize COA subcommittees to more closely fit the organization of the COA, ensuring adequate subcommittee oversight of staff activity while eliminating duplication.

•    Better coordination between COA Members and staff, the RNC Political Staff and COA Delegate Services to ensure consistent delegate communication.


With more RNC Member input and oversight, it is very likely that the 2012 Republican National Convention would not have been able to squander vital resources. The next RNC Chairman must rely on the RNC Membership to capture and understand exactly what has transpired to date, recommend actions to overcome past mistakes, and provide their expertise for a full recovery of our national showcase.
These reforms should be enshrined within the RNC rules.

Restoring Accountability

As RNC Members, you devote great time and effort in service of the Republican Party, and take your responsibilities very seriously.  You know the RNC is the steward of our party’s reputation and of donor contributions, large and small.  Your foremost interest is ensuring the RNC successfully carries out its unique and crucial role supporting state parties and Republican candidates in every election cycle.

Over these past two years, many Members have learned through media reports information that was not only surprising, but also distressing.

If elected as RNC Chairman, I will ensure that Members, including Members leading specific committees, have full knowledge of and input into RNC operations, long before they reach the news media.  The Chairman and all RNC staff will be accountable first and foremost to Members of the RNC. I venture that if a similar commitment to transparency and accountability had been in place, the RNC would not be more than $20 million in debt as we enter the critical 2012 election cycle.

I can make this commitment to you because my record shows I have always operated with absolute transparency during my decades of political and government leadership. Throughout my senior positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the NRCC and the RNC, I have developed and implemented programs and budgets effectively, with the highest integrity, and – most importantly - as a collaboration among equals.

What We Must Do

As RNC Chairman, I would take immediate action to instill the collaboration and accountability necessary to reassure RNC Members and party donors that we are worthy stewards of the party and its resources.  Upon taking office I would:

As Chairman, I will work with you to continually search for and find the most effective, efficient ways to spend our money and leverage our resources.  To win the White House, a Senate Majority and expand our House Majority we need a lean, organized and tight operation.  President Obama will raise a billion dollars. We need an effort that is similarly effective and focused, that’s why I will ensure that RNC Members are fully informed and briefed on the actions of the committee.

Under my chairmanship, the RNC will become a professional organization, accountable to the Members of the RNC, with constant collaboration to ensure election victories and success.

Securing Financial Strength
In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Status Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’”

The candidates for RNC Chairman know our financial status quo, and all promise to raise the funds needed to pay down our crippling debt and prepare for the 2012 elections. I offer more than promises: I offer definitive, proven proposals for how I will work with you to do it.

In 1993, when I became Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the NRCC had record debt of nearly $5 million. Republicans were the Minority Party in the U.S. House, and we had just lost the White House for the first time in 12 years. The NRCC had stopped prospecting its direct mail donors months earlier and had very poor terms on a line of credit. The plan outlined below is how I righted that ship and reflects the lessons I learned from the experience.

Unlike the other candidates running for Chairman, I have faced dire financial situations before, and many of the systems and programs implemented at the NRCC in 1993 are still working well to this day. You might also recall the historic 1994 victory that was a direct result of our NRCC plans in the 1994 cycle.

The RNC’s ever-growing loss of major donors has been a consistent, disturbing theme over the last two years. As a result, the RNC has become increasingly dependent on small dollar, direct mail contributions, nearly doubling the cost of every dollar raised. In 2008, it cost 40 cents to raise $1.00; in 2010, it cost between 70 and 80 cents.

If the RNC is to pay off its debt and prepare for the 2012 campaign, we must reverse this trend and lower our fundraising costs. We must win back our major donors by restoring their confidence and give them reasons to once again support the RNC.

What We Must Do

I know that a majority of the RNC Chairman’s time should be spent fundraising. This doesn’t mean showing up for RNC events and making speeches; it means being on the phone daily, and traveling as needed, to reconnect, rebuild and expand relationships with major donors.

I have raised tens of millions of dollars for the party, candidates and committees in my career, and have close relationships with major donors. I have the vision and experience to develop and implement effective plans that will restore the RNC to its historic position as a respected, effective organization that helps candidates win elections. Chief among those plans are my ideas for rebuilding our financial strength through robust fundraising, efficient finance operations, and a realistic debt retirement plan.


Two National Finance Co-Chairmen

Regional/State Finance Chairmen
RNC Finance Department
Major Donor Programs
Direct Mail, Phone and e-campaigns
Joint Fundraising Agreements and Efforts
We must be realistic and creative. The key to cutting the debt while also attracting major donors to return to the RNC is to cut costs, streamline the operation, and show that the RNC is using a comprehensive approach to raising dollars at all levels. No one wants to donate to debt. We must prove to people that they are making an investment in the future of the Republican Party. The initial steps include:
We may also consider a new structure to maintain and manage our voter list. List maintenance currently costs between $10 and $20 million annually. Similar to what the DNC has done with its Catalist program, the RNC might consider a lease back arrangement with an outside 501(c)3. While we will never relinquish ownership of the list, we may achieve significant savings and free-up valuable hard dollars for other programs.


These are my recommendations and I welcome your thoughts and proposals; your commitment and experience means this a team effort. Together, we will take the essential steps to assure donors that we are serious about rebuilding strained relationships, and we are wholly focused on fixing what’s been broken.

Support State Parties and Reinvigorate Voter Programs

First, a few facts:
These facts have at least three things in common:
Like most of you, I have been concerned as much by what the RNC has not done during these past two years as by what it has done. There has not been an aggressive, nationwide voter registration program; and key state Victory Programs were either insufficiently funded or poorly executed.

Repeating this lack of strategic focus will cost us dearly in the future. While the 2012 primary season unfolds, the RNC must be building the grassroots infrastructure our nominee will need to mobilize his or her general election campaign against a well- funded, well-organized incumbent president. This is something only the RNC can do.

In my “Rebuilding our Financial Strength” paper, I outlined how to ensure the RNC has the money needed to win in 2012. Here, I propose that we should spend that money on programs that are the core of what the RNC should do every election: Party building and voter mobilization.

Our conservative philosophy holds that government closest to the people governs best. This holds true for our party structure as well. I have worked for and with the RNC and Republican candidates for thirty years and know we must rely on state leaders and state parties, because they are closest to the voters and know best how to win their states.

We can unite like-minded voters under the GOP banner, building alliances with grassroots movements that agree we must protect our country against tax-and-spend Democrats by electing fiscal conservatives to state and federal office.

What We Must Do

We haven’t a minute to lose and a lot of ground to recover. If elected Chairman, I will join with state party chairmen to begin this work immediately:

Consult and plan with state parties
Provide necessary grassroots resources

As RNC Committee Members and dedicated activists, you know, as I do, that winning campaigns comes down to grassroots resources and boots on the ground. The Democrats will be formidable and well organized in 2012, so it’s not the time for on-the- job national voter program training at the RNC. I have proven experience developing and leading state and national programs --- and leading them to win.

Reclaim and Renew our Technology Advantage

Not very long ago, our Grand Old Party could have also been called the Grand New Party --- because in the early years of the 21st Century the RNC was the undisputed leader in developing and using new technologies to identify, recruit and mobilize voters.

We have lost our edge. The Democratic Party is outperforming the Republican Party in online giving, social networking, and blogger outreach. The RNC must now incorporate the lessons from the Tea Parties and our Party’s best and brightest, which won in 2010 in part by embracing the Internet and using innovative new online tools and tactics.

To win back the White House and Senate in 2012, we have to surpass the Democrats’ use of technology. We have to talk to voters the way they talk to one another: online and on the air. We must not only reclaim the advantage we once held, we must renew our approach, our tactics and our tools.

Rather than offer a narrow, 2011 prescription, as RNC Chairman I will propose developing a long-term infrastructure that will encompass and adapt to new technology and tools in 2011, 2012 and beyond.
This is because we have to do more than catch up on social networking; we must prepare to engage a new generation of voters on mobile devices and social networks. All of our data and messaging must also apply to online advertising and new digital transmission opportunities as they emerge.

We have to act like any private sector corporation, which invests in research and development to build and retain a competitive edge. We have to leverage the RNC’s infrastructure and scope to develop and then deploy technology tools for use by our gubernatorial, presidential and congressional nominees, and by state parties in their Victory Plans, fundraising and GOTV efforts.

What We Must Do

The ultimate goal of all RNC technology investments is to convert our dollars and the efforts of volunteers and staff into real world results: Increased voter registration, turnout and election victories. To reach these goals, I will work with RNC Members on a three- fold proposal to invest, integrate, and innovate.


Throughout my thirty years working in campaigns, at party committees or at the highest level of large, complex organizations, I have learned first hand that every year brings a new technology revolution. This is a hallmark of the creativity and entrepreneurship of our great country. The RNC must invest, participate and lead technology revolutions in voter and donor contact and outreach, to ensure we can elect the conservative leaders that will protect our families and reduce the size and scope of government.