Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele was elected as the new Chair of the Republican National Committee yesterday. Steele defeated a large field of candidates, including the incumbent Mike Duncan, who had been handpicked by President George Bush. Steele’s election took over five hours and six ballots. Steele is seen as a person that may bring some appeal to young and minority voters. From the Washington Post:
“We have an image problem,” Steele said. “We’ve been misidentified as party that is insensitive, a party unconcerned about the lives of minorities. I’m saying enough’s enough, that day is over.”
He added: “This is the dawn of a new party moving in a new direction with strength and conviction.”
“He is very truly the representation of the party of Lincoln,” said Joanne Young, who serves on the advisory committee of the Washington, D.C., Republican Party and attended yesterday’s vote. “He will reach out to women and moderates. It’s a very positive message for the country to have an African American who is at the helm of the Republican Party.”
Steele pledged to bring the Republicans back in the northeast:
“We’re going to win again in the Northeast.
“We’re going to bring this party to every corner, every boardroom, every neighborhood, every community,” Steele told a cheering crowd in a ballroom at the Capital Hilton after his election was announced. “. . . For those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over.”
Steele is a member of the Republican Leadership Council, a group that supports abortion rights. He is the first African-American to head the R.N.C.