Maria Cino vies to be chair of RNC

Maria Cino “should have been a nun.”

So says Mary Matalin, Republican political consultant and Cino’s best friend. But Cino is not a nun; she is instead what some might consider the polar opposite: an experienced political operative, and the most recent person to throw herself into the race to become chair of the Republican National Committee.

When it comes to Cino, however, Matalin insists these two professions are not opposites. “I think she should have been a nun,” Matalin told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. “She’s got that kind of selfless giving gene that is certainly rare in politics, but it’s just who she is. She’s just a funny one and a giver.”

Cino has been on the political scene since 1980, when she took her first job at the RNC.

“I walked into the RNC thirty years ago and I was just out of college,” Cino told TheDC in a phone interview. “Ronald Reagan had just won, and I was certainly enthusiastic about working what I thought was the best job that I’d ever had in my life; that I was a kid from Buffalo, and I was going to be working for the Republican National Committee.”

Since then, Cino has worked her way up through the party, holding leadership positions in party organs, on campaigns, and in the Bush administration. Her pitch to committee members highlights this extensive experience, and the applicable skills and insight she has gained from her three decades of working for the party. To date, she has the endorsement of six committee members, and she told TheDC that she has spoken at length with “around 80 to 85 percent of the committee.”

“Candidly,” she said, “the response has been very, very good. And I think that has to do with my pitch.”

Cino’s pitch ties her experiences to what she sees as the four major challenges the RNC will face in the upcoming cycle: a large debt, the need for serious fundraising, a “lack of management” of the committee, and the challenges that accompany a presidential election cycle.

From 1993 to 1997, Cino served as the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, during which time, she explains, she learned first hand how to deal with serious debt.

“We had almost 5 million dollars debt in 1993 and ’94 when I inherited the committee,” she said. “Much the same situation, with a lack of major donor interest or confidence, and a direct mail program that was badly failing. I took the NRCC in 1993 and 1994 when I was executive director, I turned it around, restructured it, reorganized it, rebuilt it, and we ended up winning the majority for the first time in 40 years for the U.S. House.”

Cino next served as political director for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, from which she was tapped to serve as RNC deputy chairman for political operations. In that role, she designed and implemented the victory program in all fifty states, and worked extensively on get-out-the-vote efforts.