Haley Barbour and the RNC Chairman’s race

January 22nd, 2009 by Perry

This week’s Reasonably Right discusses the race for RNC Chairman. The Chairman will be chosen at the RNC meeting next weekend (Jan 29-31).

Six declared Republicans seek the chairmanship: Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, and former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chip Saltsman. Saltsman’s campaign has vanished: a disappearing trick performed by the “Barack the Magic Negro” satire controversy.

There are 168 RNC members so 85 votes will win.

Mississippi has three votes for chairman. Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour and Mississippi Chairman Brad White are voting for Dawson of South Carolina. Mississippi’s Republican National Committeewoman Cindy Phillips of Madison is supporting Duncan.

In 1993, Haley Barbour was elected on the third round of balloting. At publication, tallies at YourRNC.com showed Duncan leading with 23 endorsements, Anuzis and Steele in second with 14 pledges each, Dawson with 13 commitments and Blackwell with 12 supporters.  [Those numbers have already changed.]

In a couple of e-mails to the members, supporters of Duncan have invoked Governor Haley Barbour’s - a former successful national chairman - name as if to somehow link his name to the Duncan camp. But Barbour has said he is not for or against anyone, but that he questions the symbolism of maintaing the status quo.

Henry Barbour elaborated to this column his uncle’s meaning of symbolism, “It’s not about whose fault it is, it’s about moving forward. Our leadership in congress did not change. If we do not change the leadership of the party, what does that say to the electorate? It says we didn’t hear you.”

Henry Barbour continued, “I like Mike Duncan personally, but this can’t be about personal friendships. It’s about getting back on the right track. We’ve got to make a change: a real change and the perception of change. We can’t do that with the same chairman. The symbolism and the substance are very important. After a season of catastrophic defeat, you might like your coach and he might be a good coach, but to keep him invites further disaster.”

White, who also endorsed Dawson, had this to say of the Duncan campaign.  “It’s a simple question of effectiveness,” White said.  “Mike Duncan, while a fine person, can no longer be effective.  Perception alone has killed him.  Let there be no mistake, we are at war over the heart and soul of America.  The Republican Party must elect a leader who can communicate our message to the American people in a manner that will resonate.  Duncan has proven he cannot do that,” said White.

The chairman’s election next weekend will determine the tactical and operational direction of the national Republican party. “It’s no secret that the Republican brand has real problems,” Henry Barbour said, “and I can’t imagine going back to our grassroots and telling them that the National Committee decided to keep our same leadership.”

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal: Perry/The Republicans have problems

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