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2009 Republican National Committee chairmanship election

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2009 Republican National Committee chairmanship election

1999 ← Republican Party chairmanship election, 2009 → 2011
January 20, 2009

Timeline
  • January 29, 2009 – Chip Saltsman withdraws from the race amidst controversy surrounding racially-political satire[1]
  • January 20, 2009 – Election held by party voting members in Washington, D.C.

Balloting

  • First ballot: Duncan wins plurality; 52
  • Second ballot: Duncan and Steele tie for lead; 48–48
  • Third ballot: Steele wins plurality; 51; Duncan withdraws
  • Fourth ballot: Dawson wins plurality; 62; Blackwell withdraws
  • Fifth ballot: Steele wins plurality; 79; Anuzis withdraws
  • Sixth ballot: Steele wins majority over Dawson; 91–77

Results

The 2009 Republican National Committee chairmanship election started out as a six-way race, and ended on the sixth ballot with Michael Steele becoming the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee.[2] The Washington Times called it the "'Dirtiest ever' race for RNC chairman."[3]

Pre-campaign

On November 11, 2008, Jeff Burton launched a political draft website to encourage Steele to run for Republican National Committee Chairman.[4] The website allowed visitors to sign a draft petition, and received over 6,000 signatures.[5]

Campaign

Katon Dawson announced his official bid on November 24, 2008.[6] Dawson was one of two candidates to earn votes on each of the six votes taken; he lost the final ballot to winner Michael Steele, 91-77.[7]

On November 24, 2008 Steele launched his own campaign website,[8] and confirmed his intention to run on Hannity and Colmes.[9] Steele, seen as an early frontrunner,[10] rejected the idea that the color of his skin had anything to do with his chances at becoming RNC chair, saying, "I am a Republican who happens to be African-American."[11]

Chip Saltsman was the first candidate to release a specific plan regarding the future of the party, which can be viewed at Our Plan for Republican Victory.[12] In his bid for the RNC Chairmanship, Saltsman has been endorsed by: former Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee,[13] former United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and Tennessee House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower.[14]

USA Today reported that, "half of the candidates to lead the Republican National Committee (RNC) are Southerners: current Chairman Mike Duncan of Kentucky, South Carolina Chairman Katon Dawson and former Tennessee chairman Chip Saltsman. Former Ohio secretary of State Ken Blackwell and former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele are black. Saul Anuzis, the Michigan GOP chairman, is a Harley-Davidson rider, an ex-union member and the son of an autoworker.[15]

"Barack the Magic Negro" controversy

For Christmas 2008, Chip Saltsman sent members of the Republican National Committee a music CD of songs intended to be political satire. The CD of 41 songs included one entitled "David Ehrenstein's 'Barack the Magic Negro' " set to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon". Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column, written by Ehrenstein, who is partly of African-American descent,[16] that suggested President Barack Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation's history of mistreatment of African-Americans.[17] Saltsman said the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, a white conservative parodist songwriter, who performs it using his impersonation of Al Sharpton, "should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times."[18]

Some opposing candidates, including incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, criticized Saltsman; others, such as former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, defended Saltsman against the "hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race."[19]

Saltsman responded by saying, "Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on the Rush Limbaugh Show. I firmly believe that we must welcome all Americans into our party and that the road to Republican resurgence begins with unity, not division. But I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media's double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal."[20]

Some conservatives not currently seeking the RNC chairmanship, such as Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and North Carolina Republican National Committeewoman Ada Fisher, have also criticized with regards to the issue. Gingrich stated in an e-mail message: "There are no grounds for demeaning him (Obama) or for using racist descriptions."[21]

Voting

The election was decided in late January after six rounds of voting, with Steele elected chairman by a majority vote of the 168 committee members.[10][22][23]

Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Michael Steele 46 48 51 60 79 91
Katon Dawson 28 29 34 62 69 77
Saul Anuzis 22 24 24 31 20 Withdrew
Ken Blackwell 20 19 15 15 Withdrew
Mike Duncan 52 48 44 Withdrew
     Candidate won that round of voting
     Candidate withdrew
     Candidate won RNC Chairmanship

After the third round of balloting Duncan dropped out of contention without endorsing a candidate.[24] Ken Blackwell, the only other African-American candidate, dropped out after the fourth ballot and endorsed Steele, though Blackwell had been the most socially conservative of the candidates and Steele had been accused of not being "sufficiently conservative." Steele picked up Blackwell's votes.[25] After the fifth round, Steele held a ten vote lead over Katon Dawson, with 79 votes, and Saul Anuzis dropped out.[26]

The sixth round

The final push that led to Steele's win was from the eight voters from the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, who switched to Steele after Anuzis dropped out.[27] Steele won the chairmanship of the RNC in the sixth round, with 91 votes to Dawson's 77.[28]

References

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