Washington (CNN) - Former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan decided Friday that he will not attempt to get his old job back - but not without taking a parting shot at the current chairman, Michael Steele.
Duncan, a Kentucky native who ran the RNC from 2007 until 2009, when he lost his re-election bid to Steele in a multi-ballot election, told the committee's 168 members in an email that "changes in my family, business and outside responsibilities make it impossible for me to devote the time needed to effectively lead the RNC over the next two years."
Without mentioning Steele by name, Duncan said it's imperative that Steele be prevented from winning a second term atop the committee. Only then, he wrote, can the RNC begin to dig itself out of debt and start "restoring the RNC to its place as the premier political organization in the United States."
"With the American Dream being destroyed by Barack Obama and the Democrats' reckless economic policies and lack of leadership on the global stage, the stakes are so high that, to save America, we must change the leadership at the top of the committee," he wrote in the email, provided to CNN by a member of the committee.
Duncan had signaled to party insiders in recent months that he would consider being drafted to run for his old job. Yet while he participated in a recent forum with other RNC candidates and made phone calls to gauge potential support, he had not launched the kind of aggressive campaign undertaken by some of his potential rivals.
At the same time, Duncan, who currently advises the conservative 527 group American Crossroads, has remained something of a wild card in the chairman's race. Because of his long relationships within the committee, his candidacy would have scrambled the race to line up support among RNC members.
Now, though, the field of Steele challengers appears finally set: Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, former Missouri Chairwoman Ann Wagner, Michigan committeeman Saul Anuzis, former Bush administration official Maria Cino and former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins.