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.