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Republican honchos from across the country are gathered today at the Capital Hilton to pick the next chair of the Republican National Committee. Now usually LL would have no interest in this, except that D.C. native and former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele has mounted a strong bid for the seat.

All three voting members from D.C. are backing Steele, according to D.C. GOP executive director Paul Craney.

As expected, there’s no winner here on the first ballot, who totals were announced just after noon. Here’s the initial vote totals (the magic number is 85):

Incumbent chair Mike Duncan: 52
Steele: 46
South Carolina Republican chairman Katon Dawson: 28
Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis: 22
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell: 20

UPDATE, 1:05 P.M.: Steele pulls even with Duncan, still not final:

Duncan: 48
Steele: 48
Anuzis: 29
Dawson: 24
Blackwell: 19

UPDATE, 1:50 P.M.: Steele now in the lead, but Dawson is gaining…

Steele: 51
Duncan: 44
Dawson: 34
Anuzis: 24
Blackwell: 15

UPDATE, 2:15 P.M.: Duncan drops out! Round 4 to come!

UPDATE, 2:50 P.M.: Uh-oh—-Duncan conservatives flocking to Dawson. However, CW is that Steele and Anuzis appeal to moderates; Dawson and Blackwell appeal to conservatives. By that logic, there’s more votes leaning toward the moderates now than the conservatives, which would be an analysis beneficial to Steele.

Dawson: 62
Steele: 60
Anuzis: 31
Blackwell: 15

UPDATE, 3:15 P.M.: Blackwell out! Endorses Steele!

UPDATE, 3:30 P.M.: The suspense! Round 5:

Steele: 79 (need 85 to win)
Dawson: 69
Saul: 20