[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/07/art.getty.rnc.logo.jpg caption="The election for RNC chairman will take place on Jan. 30."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawon picked up a pair of new endorsements Tuesday in his bid to run the Republican National Committee, including the support of Mississippi committee member Henry Barbour, the nephew of popular former RNC chairman Haley Barbour.
Barbour's endorsement - confirmed by Dawson's campaign - is notable because his uncle, now the governor of Mississippi, caught the attention of RNC members last week when he suggested Republicans should avoid tapping a Southerner to helm the party.
"There are some people that want to attack us as being too southern," Haley Barbour told USA Today on Jan. 5. "I don't think we ought to make it easier for them to do that."
Along with Dawson, southerners Chip Saltsman (Tennessee) and Mike Duncan (Kentucky) are seeking the RNC post.
Dawson also nabbed the backing of longtime New Jersey committee member David Norcross, who said he was initially hesitant to offer his support to a southerner, but changed his mind after examining Dawson’s record of winning statewide races in South Carolina.
Norcross said it's important to have a chairman "who comes from the strongest region for our party, who is willing to offer a hand to the northeast and the mountain west." New Jersey's other two members - state chair Tom Wilson and committeewoman Virginia Haines - have endorsed Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis.
Dawson wasn’t the only RNC member to pick up support Tuesday.
Duncan, the incumbent chairman, announced the backing of two committee members from West Virginia, Jim Reed and Donna Lou Gosney. In a letter to RNC members explaining their choice, Reed and Gosney cited Duncan’s fundraising prowess and his insider’s understanding of party mechanics.
"Mike Duncan is a nuts-and-bolts chairman who understands the mechanism we need in states like West Virginia to build our party from the grassroots up, so we can enjoy lasting victories, not just short-term or sporadic success," they wrote in the letter.
To win the chairmanship, a candidate needs at least 85 votes from the party's 168 members, but this year's crowded contest could see several rounds of balloting when the party gathers at the annual RNC Winter Meeting in Washington at the end of the month.
Though most committee members have remained mum on who they're supporting, a number of public endorsements have begun to trickle out following a series of RNC-related meetings in Washington last week, during which the six candidates made their pitches to party members.
Duncan leads his rivals with 20 endorsements, followed by Dawson, Anuzis and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, all of whom now have 12 member endorsements, according to YourRNC.com, a Web site tracking the contest.
They are followed by former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who has nine endorsements, and Saltsman, the former Tennessee party chairman, who has yet to announce any member support.