Having said the other day that I though Ken Blackwell was unfortunately not picking up traction, I've talked to several people who disagree and make a very persuasive case for Blackwell.
At the same time, the colossal mud slinging going on is getting funnier by the day and nastier.
Here's the scenario laid out right now.
If Duncan cannot win on the first ballot and does not get close enough to get it on the second ballot, he'll shift his support to Steele.
If Duncan looks to have victory within grasp, Steele will shift support to Duncan.
That makes Duncan the front runner.
But, there are a number of Duncan supporters who won't switch to Steele. If Duncan does not get close on the first ballot, part of his supporters will go to Dawson, some to Anuzis, and some to Blackwell — not just to Steele.
On the fourth ballot, if Dawson hasn't picked up support and Anuzis has not picked up support, conservatives will want someone to rally to.
A key for Blackwell is that he has commitments through six ballots, which means he is not getting out. Likewise, sources close to his camp and individual members I've talked to who previously committed publicly are privately saying they're taking a second look as the meeting begins and are starting to lean toward Blackwell.
Anuzis is in an interesting spot. Most, if not all, of Blackwell's supporters, will stick will Blackwell. There are interpersonal dynamics between Anuzis and John Yob of Michigan that contribute to that. If Steele flounders, Anuzis could pick up a number of those votes, except Jim Bopp possibly, unintentionally sabotaged that effort today by sending out an anti-Steele oppo dump that included an email from Anuzis pointing out Steele's work with the Log Cabin Republicans.
Still, as people are falling back away from Duncan, if Steele does not seem viable, those who don't want a Southern Chair are going to take a second look at Anuzis.
Back to Blackwell, his camp makes a good comparison to Jim Nicholson who came in third in 1997, but after the fifth ballot won. If Blackwell's supporters actually do hold on through six ballots and the people I've talked to really do waiver, which is a good possibility, he could be the next chairman. We should not count him out.