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Politics

Dawson Not Inclined To Make RNC Repeat Bid

Ann Wagner, former ambassador to Luxembourg, is one of the candidates for Republican National Committee chair who will speak at a forum Wednesday afternoon.

December 1, 2010

Former South Carolina Republican Party head Katon Dawson doesn't believe he will be a candidate for Republican National Committee chairman this year, forgoing a potential rematch with incumbent chairman Michael Steele two years after narrowly losing the race.

In an interview with The Hotline the same day a group of conservative RNC members hold the first public forum for chairman candidates, Dawson said he is paying close attention to the race, and that several friends are in the field.

But, he added: "I don't foresee myself being a candidate for the RNC unless some unusual circumstances were to happen."

"Am I a serious candidate for the RNC? If I was serious, I would be there today," Dawson said of the forum, being held this afternoon by the Republican National Conservative Caucus and FreedomWorks.

Candidates Saul Anuzis, Ann Wagner, Gentry Collins, Chris Healy and Reince Priebus will attend at least one event with RNC members over the next two days. Priebus will not participate in the forum, but he will be at the event tomorrow. Steele will not attend the event.

As candidates have jockeyed for position, Dawson was seen as a formidable threat. But this year, Dawson has been more interested in recruiting a big-name contender rather than securing support for himself. Those efforts, he said, have fallen through. Dawson said he is involved in four transition teams in his home state, including for Gov.-elect Nikki Haley (R) and Rep.-elect Tim Scott (R).

In 2009, Dawson secured 77 votes on the final ballot, just shy of the 91 votes that gave Steele the win. Dawson has been a relentless Steele critic ever since, going so far as to call on Steele to quit the post. On Wednesday, Dawson said he does not believe Steele has a chance to win a second term.

"There's no path to victory for him. [RNC members] are very respectful of the position and the title he has, and they will be very respectful of him on his way out," Dawson said. "This membership is going to be coy, they're going to be clever [and] they're going to pick the person who can restore" the RNC's reputation.

Dawson criticized Steele for putting the RNC in a big financial hole, the size of which will be revealed when the committee files its financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday. The RNC, Dawson said, "is a brand in politics much like Coca Cola is in soft drinks, and it's a brand that badly needs to be restored."

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