Steele Elected RNC Chair
By Chris Cillizza
The Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele as its first African American chairman today in Washington, a decision that came after an excruciating series of ballots that displayed a level of drama rarely seen in national politics.
On the sixth and final ballot Steele bested South Carolina Republican party Chairman Katon Dawson 91 to 77.
In picking Steele, who had previously served as the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, the state's lieutenant governor, and the GOP nominee in the Maryland Senate race in 2006, the party regulars seem to be acknowledging the need for new -- and different -- faces at the top of its food chain.
"The winds of change are blowing at the RNC," said current chair Mike Duncan who stepped aside after losing votes on each of the first three ballots.
After five ballots, the race came down to Steele and Dawson. Republican party strategists in attendance at the meeting openly fretted about the possibility of electing Dawson, who had acknowledged his membership in a whites-only club, and the signal it would send to a country that had just elected Barack Obama as the nation's first black president.
Posted at 4:08 PM ET on Jan 30, 2009
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