- Associated Press - Friday, November 12, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent Michigan Republican said Friday he is running against Michael Steele, arguing the GOP can win in 2012 only if the party chairman steps out of the limelight and allows candidates to be the voice and face of the party.

Saul Anuzis, who lost his bid for Republican National Committee chairman two years ago, made his plans known in an e-mail.

“My agenda is very straightforward. I have no interest in running for office. I won’t be writing a book. It is not my goal to be famous,” said Mr. Anuzis, who promised to serve just one two-year term and work hard to elect Republicans “from the top to every township and city across this great country of ours.”

His statement was a slap at Mr. Steele, who has generated controversy repeatedly in his tenure as party chairman, sometimes drawing attention that was detrimental to the Republican cause.

Mr. Steele has not said whether he will seek re-election to a new two-year term in January. Republicans have been seeking to recruit a strong challenger to Mr. Steele, whose tenure has been marked by ill-chosen remarks and questions about the party’s finances.

Earlier this year, Mr. Steele released his book, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,” and angered many Republicans with his comments in interviews tied to the publication. Mr. Steele said he thought Republicans had “screwed up” for the most part in the years since Ronald Reagan was president.

In his statement, Mr. Anuzis, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, also said the GOP will need to rebuild trust with major donors who abandoned the party in 2010 and supported outside political organizations instead.

“We need these groups and their support, but they can’t be expected to replace the RNC in a presidential year. We must … bring them back to the table,” he said.

Henry Barbour, a nephew of Republican Governors Association chairman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, has reached out to a half-dozen potential candidates who would challenge Mr. Steele if he seeks to keep the chairmanship. The younger Mr. Barbour, who is one of the 168 voting members of the RNC, is looking for candidates who could rally an anti-Steele voting bloc when members meet Jan. 13-16.

Among the names being considered are David Norcross, a former New Jersey party chairman, and Wisconsin GOP chairman and RNC lawyer Reince Priebus, who ran Mr. Steele’s 2009 bid for chairman.

Another possible candidate, Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy, is talking about a run but hasn’t made a decision. Even so, he is highlighting his work as a fundraiser, a traditional role for the national committee chief.

“I’ve shown I can grind money out of a stone and actually get a lot for it,” Mr. Healy said this week.

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