January 30th, 2009
12:12 PM ET
4 years ago

RNC Race: Steele finishes strong in first-round balloting

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Voting to elect to the new chairman of the Republican National Committee is now underway at the party’s annual Winter Meeting, but none of the five candidates received the 85-vote majority needed to win after the first round of balloting Friday.

As expected, incumbent chairman Mike Duncan emerged as the leader after the first round with 52 votes, but that tally is lower than many committee members expected and it may be difficult for Duncan to maintain committee support after his showing.

Michael Steele, the former Maryland Lt. Gov., beat expectations by earning 46 votes, a total that puts him in a strong position as the balloting moves to a second round. There were suprised cheers in the meeting room as Steele’s total was announced.

South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson finished third with 28 votes, followed by Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, with 22.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell finished the round with 20 votes, a better than expected showing. Blackwell supporters are clearly aware of their candidate’s underdog position. Before the vote, they distributed a flier noting that it took former RNC chairman Jim Nicholson six ballots to win the chairmanship in 1997.

Voting began shortly after 11:30 a.m., as the 168 committee members shuffled to the front of their meeting hall in single file order to drop their orange secret ballots into a box, a process they will likely repeat several times throughout the day as the field is narrowed.


Mike Duncan: 52

Michael Steele: 46

Katon Dawson: 28

Saul Anuzis: 22

Ken Blackwell: 20

(Updated 12:20 with additional information)

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Jim in San Jose

    It's an interesting race to irrelevancy. The writing is on the wall and the GOP still can't read it. Maybe they should go back to school and study the principles of inclusion and fairness.

    January 30, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Clinton Voter

    Why would anyone want that job?

    January 30, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. I like Mike

    Michael Steele is awesome. Go!

    January 30, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Jazz

    You will be doomed if you let Duncan be the RNC chair. People you think you got trouble then vote him in and you all will be under the short bus or he will be removed from office and fast.

    January 30, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Ken

    I'm wondering why there is so much energy being expended on trying to be the captain of the Titanic? What kind of death wish do these idiots have?

    January 30, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Simmy

    For the first time in their "history" Republicans really want an African American. I wonder why?

    January 30, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Dawn

    What no Sarah Palin?

    January 30, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Beverly, NYC

    Duncan, really? He has led the RNC so well. Mr. Steele can forget it, he will be a figure head if he's successfull. He not conservative enough for the Limbaugh/Hannity wing of the RNC. Might be fun to watch Limbaugh foam at the mouth if he wins. How many vote did Chip get?

    January 30, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. steve

    Sounds like the Repubs could use Instant Runoff Voting and avoid this Round 1 – 2 – 3 – ad nauseum.

    January 30, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Laverne

    The republicans need a real change candidate to be their leader. They need to show they are really putting forth an effort to expand the face of the republican party. I hope they pick a woman, African American or Hispanic person. But then again, I could care less, I am a democrat!

    January 30, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. BB

    How about Rush Limbaugh? He'd sure rev up the hypocrits to get out and vote.

    January 30, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. katiec

    It is immaterial who they vote in as all seem to support and follow the same outdated, unpopular and inadequate policies and beliefs of the past.
    They just do not seem to realize we voted for change. Their complete lack of acknowledement of the crisises they have created these last eight years and continuation of politics as usual will bring them to

    January 30, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Alicia

    My guess is Steele, thinking Blacks will vote Repub! Blacks know a TOM when they see one!

    January 30, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    A vote to become chairman of what?
    A former political party known as the GOP? The RNC?
    Oh yes for nearly 25 years I was a member of this party, no one but no one ever called or wrote me other than to ask me for money. No one in this party had any concern about the issues facing my family, or had any thought about what I would like to see as far as issues that effected my life.
    So I said good bye, and joined a party that supports my issues, a party that is concerned about the people, and a Party that is dedicated to bring FREEDOM ansd LIBERTY back to our great nation.

    January 30, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Grog in Ohio

    Ah... Ken Blackwell, who if there was any justice would be just now finishing his prison term for encumbering voters in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, finishing dead last. I love it when crime doesn't pay. The GOP is showing just how grateful they are for Blackwell's vote hampering.

    January 30, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. chuck

    RNC--Racial National Congress.

    January 30, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. cherrystrawberry

    Look Dems.....we got one too! LOL.

    January 30, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Gail

    Michael Steele will win, they will think its their Obama....NOT!!!

    January 30, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. obama-mama

    Republicans Steele is not Obama...Just another tactic like the Sarah Palin move....Steele is the token

    January 30, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. carlo

    Who cares? I don't give a crap about Steele, and I'm black. His ideas are just like Bush's and the rest of the dittoheads. No dice for me.

    January 30, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Another AC

    If Republicans REALLY want change, REALLY want to reach out to those of us who maintain no party afiliation, they will select someone who is a voice of reason, someone with whom we may not always agree, but someone who is rational and intelligent. And as an independent in Ohio, I *promise* you, that person is NOT Ken Blackwell.

    This man actually used the phrase "tax and spend Democrat" in a 2006 campaign ad… laughable at best and pathetic at worst, especially from a "spend with no tax" Bush Republican…

    This election cycle is your wake-up call, RNC... are you paying attention?

    January 30, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Mike Dallas

    Dear God,

    With the RNC in a confined space, could You please schedule a Rapture for sometime today or Saturday?

    Prayerfully Yours,

    January 30, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. NICK

    It appears the Republican party wishes to remain a closed party.
    Mike Steele is a true supporter of the Rush Limbaugh,Hannity, Dennis Miller, Ann Coulter, & Dick Morris group. Their opinions are cleary destructive to the concept of a Big Tent party... Choose Steele and we will lose futher support among the voters.

    January 30, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. VY

    Isn't Duncan the guy who sent out the racist Obama CDs? Wow...and he's in the lead. I see what makes Rpubs tick. A group of backward haters.

    January 30, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Conservatism

    Paul you are either an idiot, a liar or both... Rush doesn't sell out on his conservative principals like McCain, and Arnold do.

    These are the RINOS killing our party.

    January 30, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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