November 12th, 2010
09:26 AM ET
7 years ago

Michigan Republican to challenge Steele

Washington (CNN) – Pledging to focus on the "nuts & bolts," Michigan Republican Saul Anuzis declared his candidacy Friday to head the Republican National Committee, setting up a potential showdown with current Chairman Michael Steele.

Steele has not publicly stated whether he will seek a second term, but is privately taking steps to do so including reaching out to trusted advisors to discuss his campaign team and strategy.

Anuzis unsuccessfully sought the chairmanship in January 2009, a contested battle featuring several candidates and multiple rounds of voting before Steele finally won.

Anuzis, currently an RNC national committeeman, states in a lengthy letter sent to fellow RNC members that he struggled with challenging Steele for the post, but ultimately decided that "the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business."

The statement is a direct criticism of Steele's leadership of the RNC, including questions about his fundraising ability and oversight of the committee's funds. Steele has defended himself from this criticism in the past and points to the successful run Republicans have had during his tenure as chairman, including wining the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat, taking back the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia and the huge Republican gains made in the midterm elections.

But Anuzis seeks to neutralize Steele's argument by stating that history has demonstrated, "We cannot be misled by our victories this year.

"In 1994 we won the House and Senate yet just two years later Bill Clinton cruised to re-election. As we've seen in the past two years public opinion can change with breathtaking speed. We can't rely on our wins in 2010 to carry us to success in 2012. We also can't win in 2012 unless the RNC re-establishes itself as the powerful force that put us over the top in the 2000 and 2004. But to be a force, the RNC must change and that requires new leadership at the top. I am offering you an alternative, a choice, a different approach to the leadership and stewardship of our party.

"Chairman Steele's record speaks for itself. He has his way of doing things. I have mine."

Anuzis goes on to offer further critiques of Steele, although he doesn't mention the chairman by name. CNN has left telephone messages at the RNC and is waiting to see if Steele has a comment on Anuzis' candidacy and comments.

In addition to sending the letter directly to the RNC members, Anuzis, who is known in GOP circles for embracing and advancing technology, announced his candidacy on Twitter and posted the letter on his personal Web site, That's Saul, Folks.

In recent weeks, several other names have been floated as potential candidates for the chairmanship. The election will take place in January.

Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Sorensen

    Does anybody care who is "head" of that ridiculous organization?
    You already have a perfectly good clown.

    November 12, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. truth

    Steele may as well pack his suitcase. He was used by the Republicans. They thought electing Steele would pit more people against President Obama. It's going to be entertaining to see him get what he deserves by the party of Hate. At least he will get his name in the history books that's if the Republicans of Texas allows it.

    November 12, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There's going to be a fight! Let's see the GOP mud slinging.

    November 12, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    While I like Michael Steele, think he's a nice guy and was pleased to see him in this position, I have to say his verbal gaffes over the last two years may have damaged him badly. It would probably be better if he stepped aside and let somebody else do the job. The next two years are critical and weekly gaffes could derail things or be huge distractions.

    November 12, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Who cares? Michael Steele is nothing but the republican party's puppet. The Republican Party only elected him because he's black and to show that there is some diversity within the party. What a farce! Now that they've won the House back, they'll kick him to the curb.

    November 12, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. vic nashville tn

    Only 48% happy about the midterm election GOP is talking about 2012 so republicans only care about election

    November 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. fayse1

    Michael Steele has served his purpose to the Republican party. Hopefully Sarah Palin will also be dismissed. This woman is on the level of Rush Limbaugh. Please just let her continue with her Fox contract and officially become their entertainer. I don't watch Fox so, I wouldn't have to listen to her screech.

    November 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business."

    Just when I thought that the GOPers were serious in their quest to tackle the hard choices needing immediate attention to ensure job growth, budget reduction, smaller government, reducing entitlements, extending Bush tax cuts, and reducing the deficit, this bozo comes out and publicly states that it is the 2012 presidential election that most concerns GOPers. Get ready for the next wave of anti-Obama rhetoric to heat up as once again the GOPers Party First agenda pushes America's needs to the back burner for the next two years. How consistent of them.

    November 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. carlos

    those TRUSTED ADVISORS will throw him under the bus, after all, they are republiCONS and CONServatives, and as far as that tea group goes, why do they call it a party??????..they are a movement just like the ocean tides....up and down, in and out....leave it at that, no more no less.

    November 12, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. stevetall

    And which party is better when it comes to 'nuts and bolts'? Why, the Republicans, of course. Especially the nuts!

    November 12, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  11. a in austin

    Steele has only been a decoy – most of the monies used to fund campaigns this past election cycle came from "unknowns", ie., foreign donations, corporate donations. Once we follow the "paybacks" it will be obvious to all where the $$ came from. RNA doesn't need Steele anymore – just toss him to the side.

    November 12, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. T'sah from Virginia

    Steele's BEHIND will be "kicked to the curb"!!! He is NOT the reason why the RepubliCAN'Ts took over – he's not even in the mix – it was the American People!!

    Steele WAKE UP and SMELL the DEPARTURE – you will be history!! If not, I will be shocked!!

    T'sah is OUT of Campaign MODE – N2 Moving America Forward with our Leader President Obama!!

    November 12, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Moshe Starkman

    Saul Anuzis is awesome! (I like Michael personally but I think it's time for the RNC to shake it up a bit.) Saul Anuzis brings energy, technology, LEADERSHIP experience, and a personal touch.


    November 12, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |