- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2009

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has summoned members of his transition team to a dinner Thursday and to a meeting at the Republican National Committee’s Washington headquarters Friday, transition team members told The Washington Times.

Mr. Steele was elected to his position last week after Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a rival for the post, withdrew from the race and threw his support to Mr. Steele. Mr. Blackwell is not part of the transition team, though it does include another Steele rival for the chairman’s job, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis.

Mr. Steele has promised to clean house at the RNC.

“My transition team will take a fresh look at everything, with an eye toward preparing to win the campaigns of the future,” he said in a statement that was unusual because transition teams usually are not launched with formal public notice.

“The transition team is all-volunteer. None of us is paid,” Mr. Anuzis told The Times. “My understanding is Chairman Steele wants us to make recommendations to revise from top to bottom all the operations of the RNC. It’s a very broad mandate.”

Mr. Blackwell, who had become identified with the religious and social conservative strains of Republicanism, stunned many prominent conservatives quitting the race after the fourth round of balloting Friday.

Word soon spread that Mr. Steele, who had been chairman of GOPAC — a Republican candidate recruitment-and-training organization, had promised the GOPAC chairmanship to Mr. Blackwell as quid pro quo for his support in the middle of Friday’s election, which Mr. Steele won in the sixth round of balloting.

But Mr. Blackwell told The Times that although he had met with Mr. Steele, no deal was discussed and there had been no talk about his taking over GOPAC.

Mr. Anuzis, a communications technology entrepreneur, said he put his name in the running for GOPAC chairman and also has organized an effort “inside the building” and outside the RNC to update fundraising and party-building technology in the manner of President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Also absent from the Steele transition team is the man who turned out to be the second-highest vote-getter in Friday’s chairman election, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, who is thought to have received the bulk of Mr. Blackwell’s supporters after Mr. Blackwell dropped out. Some religious and social conservatives on the 168-member RNC regarded Mr. Steele’s commitment to their brand of conservatism as suspect because Mr. Steele had earlier consorted with social liberals in the party, such as former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman.

Mr. Steele’s transition team, headed by Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, is made up of Mr. Anuzis, Mississippi RNC member Henry Barbour, Illinois RNC member Pat Brady, Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, Michigan RNC member Holly Hughes, Northern Mariana Islands RNC member Bo Palacios, California RNC member Shawn Steel, Maryland RNC member Joyce Tehres and Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bob Tiernan.