December 16th, 2008
07:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Blackwell and Benkiser look to lead the RNC

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Texas Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser announced Tuesday they will run on the same ticket in the race to head the Republican National Committee.

Blackwell would serve as chair and Benkiser would be the co-chair, according to letters sent to RNC members. The RNC will convene next month to select the new leader of the national party.

Full letters after the jump

Dear RNC Member,

Today we are very pleased to make the most important announcement of the campaign for RNC Chairman. I am pleased to announce that I will be running with Texas GOP Chairman Tina Benkiser as a ticket for the positions of Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee, respectively.

I wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for Co-Chairman and thank her for her support.

This is clearly exciting news for our campaign. I am ever more excited about the potential to work with Tina to lead our party to victory in 2010. She has been one of the very best state party chairmen in the country and has the values and principles that we need in party leadership. She offers a vital perspective of what state party organizations across the country need from the RNC in order to best help you succeed.

I am thrilled at the prospect of working with her to rebuild our Republican Party. Please take a moment of your time to read this important letter from Tina Benkiser.


Ken Blackwell

From the Desk of Tina J. Benkiser

Dear RNC Member,

I hope this holiday season finds you and your family well and enjoying time with each other. In the midst of celebration, I am reminded of the blessings that we as Americans enjoy. I am also thankful for your continued sacrifice of time, talent and treasure to ensure a strong foundation and an even better future for our nation.

Thanks to the encouragement of so many of you, I am announcing my candidacy for Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee. I am committed to working with you to grow our Party with integrity, restore the trust and faith of voters in our Party, and return to our winning ways.

As chairman of a successful state party comprised of 254 diverse counties where politics can be a blood sport, I am battle-tested and bring invaluable experience to the RNC leadership team. I understand that to win, our Party's mission must be to:

Promote a conservative philosophy of government, and

Build infrastructure in all 50 states plus territories and possessions so that those who share our philosophy can be effectively engaged in the political process.

Our Republican philosophy is based on respect for the individual as set forth in our U.S. Constitution and founding documents. By advocating policies that promote strong families, personal responsibility, strong national defense, lower taxes, limited government but unlimited opportunity for all, we win elections and empower people.

Our national Party grew and was entrusted with leadership when it stayed true to its conservative principles. Focusing on fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and traditional family values brought unprecedented growth to the Party not that long ago. America was and still is a center-right country. It was only when national Republican officials failed to stay true to the Party's values and uphold high ethical standards that the Party began to lose races and the trust of the American people.

If the national Republican Party hopes to win in 2010 and beyond (and the only purpose in winning should be to elect officials who will put our philosophy into public policy), the Republican Party must restore trust and faith of America in its leadership.

2009 will be a rebuilding year. To that end, I believe our Party must elect leadership who can:

Set forth a fresh vision for our Party, yet one committed to our conservative principles;

Communicate a consistent, clear, concise, principled message in a positive and practical way to voters across America;

Build a strong, grassroots infrastructure in all states, territories and possessions, providing them with resources for more effective and interactive organizations; and

Set a high ethical standard and hold its leaders accountable to that standard.

Only then can we develop a winning political plan in all areas of our nation. As we do this, we will be able to expand our donor base and raise the funds necessary to accomplish our mission. I know this is possible because my state party has developed the largest state party donor base in the nation.

I have enjoyed incredible success in Texas thanks to many strong, grassroots leaders – just like you. In the last few election cycles, Republicans have won almost 500 seats previously held by Democrats, making historic gains in every area of our state. For the first time ever, Republicans hold almost 2400 offices across Texas. We've done this by helping recruit, train and equip leaders in every area of the state and, then, helping them win.

Speaking to thousands of people and the press about our Party and principles, I have appeared on national television and talk radio, and I routinely appear and publish in media markets across Texas. Further, I have reached voters through millions of phone calls, direct mail, and electronic and emerging media. In this last election cycle, several of our "RPT TV" episodes earned national media attention for their no-nonsense, hard-hitting truth.

Our challenges are great, but we can restore our Party and return to winning across our nation. But, it will take all of us working together to do so. I hope you will allow me to use my experience to serve you in RNC leadership.

I have decided to run for the Co-Chair position because a Chairman candidate has emerged who has everything it takes to help us restore our Party and return to our winning ways. Ken Blackwell has the courage and experience to both lead and inspire us to achieve great things as a Party.

Recognized as a national conservative leader with an amazing record of accomplishment, Ken Blackwell is a dedicated servant-leader. Whether it is leading the charge on issues or successfully running an effective organization, Ken is what our Party needs at this time. He will establish a clear distinction between the Republican Party and our opposition.

As a former football player, Ken understands the necessity of teamwork. But, like a good coach, he understands all the positions on the team, how to develop a winning strategy, and how to motivate and inspire all the players to play at their best and in unity to reach our common goal.

I know that we are both committed to continue building personal relationships, planning, organizing, working and fighting for conservative change to build a better America and a brighter tomorrow. I hope that you will consider electing us as your RNC Chair and Co-Chair when we meet in January.

In the meantime, I will be contacting you to discuss my candidacy. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and listening to yours in the days ahead.

I wish a joyous holiday season!


Tina Benkiser

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. RJ, CA

    People, people! We are ALL Americans who want the best for our country. Sometimes is "our" party "in power," sometimes it's not.

    Can we all just "bury the hatchet" and move forward. If this particular "forward" turns out to be good — GREAT! If not, we'll change course AGAIN — as we have so many, many times before.


    Happy Holidays to ALL my fellow Americans, of whatever polictical party affiliation!!

    December 16, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  2. roger in ga

    I really hope they will run The Pit Bull again in 2012 so we can have a full 8 years of BO.

    December 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  3. NICK

    Another Texas Republican asking for a leadership role... Sounds like a "winner" to me.

    December 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. BB

    Gag me with a spoon. They want money.

    December 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. kayla


    December 16, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. chuck


    December 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. Ken Blackwell is the wrong man for GOP

    As Secretary of State of Ohio, Ken Blackwell was a self serving blow hard that maintained strained relationships with other prominent republicans in Ohio. It was clear that Blackwell only looks out for Blackwell's interest! And this was clearly apparent during his governor's run. And it was the primary reason why he was blown out by Ted Strickland.

    December 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. cba1999

    Blackwell was Secretary of State during the corrupt Taft administration. There were clear voter irregularities during the 2004 Presidential election on his watch. The guy then ran for Governor of Ohio and lost 62% to 38%. Oh yeah, he's a real winner all right! Beyond that, he is a religious nut case like so many on the far right. let's go GOP!!!

    December 16, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Franky

    I'm waiting for Joe Lieberman to jump in...

    December 16, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. ronpon

    are these two prospective leaders of our party going to put country first and party second? are these two prospective leaders going to quell the undue influence of the extreme right wing evangelicals, and make room for moderates in the party? are these two prospective leaders going to refrain from using wedge issues to TRY to win elections? are these two prospective leaders going to actually lead, and not disrupt? if not, they are not worthy. if so, they should be considered, along with the other announced candidates, such as steele. no more of the same, thank you, regardless of who the new chairperson is going to be. otherwise, our party will continue to be the party of old white men and angry evangelicals. oh yeah...and a party of losers.

    December 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  11. barackobama4prez

    blackwell is a token and doesn't give good interviews. not convincing at all.

    December 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. JFK

    As long as many party members are supporting the likes of Palin, I hold little respect or hope for Republicans.

    December 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Steve

    Why both? Remember what happened after the depression with the Republican Party? Think people will listen to what any Republican has to say after being twice fooled.

    December 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    Pfffft.. I can't even make myself read the whole article without spitting up in my mouth....

    It might be a joyous holiday season if not for the actions of the GOP! Only the Repub 5% base of the wealthiest of this nation are anticipaing a joyous holiday season. The rest of us are worried about what the new year will hold for ourselves or some members of our families!

    December 16, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. Lori

    Memo to Blackwell and Benkiser: Instead of trying to smear Obama, tell the RNC to come up with some real policies, put smart people in your party, and stop thinking like you're in the stone ages!

    Obama/Biden 08 and 12!!!

    December 16, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. alvino

    No change in the RNC. Same old crap with these two.

    December 16, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |


    December 16, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. Carli

    I'm in Ohio and I seem to remember him losing in a landslide,he's just an excuse for the Republicans to say "Look we have a black guy too"

    December 16, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. sunshine

    republicans have ruined america. we are losing our homes thanks to the republicans, we can't buy christmas due to their poor leadership, we can't provide a decent living for our families because they have destroyed the majority of american jobs. no more republicans.

    December 16, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  20. Sue

    What? Not the true leader of the Republican Party, the future of the party, the shining light? No Sarah?

    December 16, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. James from Ohio

    Blackwell? He's worse than Bush! Please, please, look at his record.

    December 16, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    Isn't Blackwell the guy mixed up in the questionable vote tally in OH during the 2004 Presidential election? Now he wants to lead the RNC. Can't the Republican party find any representation without all the baggage?

    December 16, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  23. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    I sincerely hope whoever ends up taking the reins will lead the Republican Party AWAY from their negative campaigning, their reliance on constant attacks and wedge issues, and their insane favoritism for the ultra-rich. If they ever want to be a true majority party, they have to listen to and actually represent more than just the socially conservative and economic upper elite 1% of the population!

    December 16, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  24. Milhouse van Houten

    "Was that an iceberg?"...."I don't know but it sure left a big hole in the hull of this thing".

    December 16, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  25. Patti in Dallas

    To JFK @ 9:00PM: Blackwell & Benkiser are cut from the same cloth as Palin, and are even more to the extreme right. I don't expect the GOP to do anything but keep that ilk happy. But that's fine by me...I'm happy to see them achieve a permanent minority.

    December 16, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
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