Republicans use paper ballots to select new RNC chairman
UPDATE: Steele wins race after sixth vote
After six rounds of voting, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele won the Republican National Committee chairman position. Steele received 91 votes in the last round, beating Dawson's 77. 85 was needed to win.
After the fitth round which had Steele back in the lead with 79, and Dawson placing with 69, Anuzis dropped out after coming in third with only 20 votes.
"We're going to say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us," said Steele. "And for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."
Liveblogging the vote at whateverisright.com, Chandler Epp writes, "Whoa… This is a bombshell. Incumbent chairman Mike Duncan has just dropped out of the race."
"'The winds of change' are coming to the Republican National Committee, he said," Epps continues. "Also, a request for a 5-minute recess before the vote was denied."
An AP update notes that Duncan received a standing ovation when he pulled out, and then he thanked former President George W. Bush.
"Obviously the winds of change are blowing at the RNC," Duncan said, adding that his two-year tenure "truly has been the highlight of my life."
Duncan didn't endorse anyone, and the fourth round of voting didn't make things much clearer. Steele lost his lead to South Carolina chair Katon Dawson. Dawson has 62 votes, Steele 60, Anuzi 31, and Blackwell trails far behind with 15. All candidates are still well short of the 85 vote threshold needed to triumph.
"Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele got the most votes in the third round of balloting for the Republican National Committee chairmanship," the AP reports. "He got 51, but that wasn't enough."
The article continues, "None of this bodes well for current GOP chairman Mike Duncan. He is seeking re-election, but has watched his support erode steadily with each round of voting. He got 44 votes in the third round. South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson got 34, while Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis took 24. And, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell trailed with 15."
"None of the five Republicans running got the majority of votes needed on the second ballot," Liz Sidoti reported earlier for the AP.
Sidoti added, "Current GOP chairman Mike Duncan is seeking re-election. He got 48 on the second ballot. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele also got 48. South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson got 29, while Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis took 24. And, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell trailed with 19."
Earlier the AP reported on the first round of voting, "Of the 168 votes cast by the Republican National Committee, Chairman Mike Duncan, who is seeking a second two-year term, got 52, while former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele emerged as his leading threat, with 46 votes. Of the others; South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson got 28, Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis took 22, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell trailed with 20."
"Still, with at least one more round of balloting set to occur and possibly more, seemingly anyone could end up with a majority," Sidoti writes.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast Jan. 29, 2009.
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Excerpts from AP report:
Four Republicans sought to oust former President George W. Bush's hand-picked national party chairman on Friday, with their surrogates arguing for change after back-to-back elections that saw the GOP lose control of Congress and the White House.
Backers of Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan argued that he should be re-elected to a second two-year term, saying that he has the experience necessary to lead a GOP rebirth.
"Who is the best leader to fix our infrastructure to win elections, to promote our conservative principled agenda ... There's only one candidate that has the experience to bring that change," said Matt Strawn, the Iowa GOP chairman who nominated Duncan.
In the hallways, supporters of the five candidates wore campaign T-shirts, hats and buttons promoting the five candidates: Duncan, a longtime party insider from Kentucky, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson and Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis.
None was expected to get the required majority of the votes — 85 — on the first balloting by the 168-member RNC.
Republicans say Duncan leads in endorsements, with Steele, Dawson and Anuzis in competitive positions, while Blackwell trails. Still, with at least two rounds of balloting expected, it's possible anyone could end up with a majority.