WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson e-mailed members of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday afternoon, urging them to stand by their convictions in the aftermath of Arlen Specter's defection to the Senate Democratic caucus.
"If we as a party will stand by the conservative platform that built our party, if we will not only reform government but look to provide quality constituent service, and if our candidates will hold themselves to the highest ethical standards, I know that Republicans can win in every corner of this great country," he wrote in the e-mail, provided to CNN by a Republican source.
Dawson sought the RNC chairmanship in January, but lost to Michael Steele in the final round of balloting. The South Carolina party chief had strong support on the committee from some of the RNC's most conservative members, some of whom remain skeptical of Steele.
Although Specter's party switch is seen as a blow to Republicans in the Northeast and in the U.S. Senate, Dawson downplayed the news as a rush to judgment on the part of the "liberal media" intent on writing the "political obituary of the Republican party."
"Despite these bad headlines and temporary political setbacks, I believe the best days are ahead for the Republican Party," he wrote. To illustrate his claim, Dawson pointed to a victory in a State House special election in South Carolina on Tuesday, in which Republican Steve Moss defeated rival Tim Spencer in a district held by Democrats for three decades. Dawson said Moss proved that conservatives can win because voters liked that the candidate "said what he did, and did what he said."
"It really was that simple," he wrote. "And it's getting back to basics is something we can all learn from this special election."
Dawson told the RNC membership, which includes the chairs of every state Republican party, that they must make it priority to recruit and train conservative candidates with positive messages who focus on government ethics.
Dawson is stepping down from his post in May.