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Anuzis First to Challenge Steele With RNC Bid

Former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis formally launched a bid to challenge Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Friday morning, arguing on his blog that “dramatic change” is needed in the RNC leadership.

“I don’t take lightly the fact that I am challenging a friend and colleague for the Chairmanship,” he wrote in a post titled, “Why I’m Running For RNC Chairman” on his website, “That’s Saul Folks.”

“As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out. But 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.”

Anuzis, a member of the RNC’s executive committee, has served as chairman of his state’s party since 2005. He ran for the RNC chairmanship in 2008 but was beaten by Steele, who has yet to announce his intention to run for a second term and is facing a chorus of criticism from his GOP colleagues.

Earlier in the week, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said he was seriously considering a run as well.

“There were a lot of commitments that were not kept. That left a lot of states short, and that prevented greater gains,” Healy told Roll Call, adding that Steele’s “nutty and careless statements” and financial mismanagement scared away prospective donors and ultimately left the RNC’s finances in ruin.

Anuzis largely agreed, but he did not directly criticize Steele.

“Even though we won an overall victory in 2010 we lost some heartbreaking statewide races in places like Illinois, Colorado, West Virginia, Washington and Nevada, and countless congressional and legislative districts because the other side had a better turnout effort,” he wrote.

“Think about your own state. Did some terrific Republican candidate work their hearts out, yet fall short by a handful of votes on Election Day? Now ask yourself: if the RNC had properly funded the Victory program in your state, would that candidate have been a winner? Would that candidate have benefited from a robust 72-hour program with ground troops sweeping in for the final weekend?”

The RNC will elect a chairman in mid-January to serve another two-year term.

Other candidates may emerge in the coming weeks. Among the possible contenders are: Katon Dawson from South Carolina, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, former Nevada Gov. Robert List, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

Hitting on a key criticism of Steele, Anuzis promised that he would “NOT (sic) strive to be the voice or the face of the party.” Further, he promised to serve only one term.

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