At a Crossroads, Split RNC Has Diverse Choices

Two of 6 candidates are black; may offer needed image change
By Amelia Atlas,  Newser User
Posted Jan 11, 2009 10:48 AM CST
Ken Blackwell at a rally in Cleveland. After losing the presidency and seats in the House and Senate, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan is trying to hold off five challengers, all calling for change.    (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
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(Newser) – Having lost the presidency to a Democratic party making new demographic inroads, the GOP faces a revealing choice about whether to elect a black party chairman, reports the New York Times. As Republicans try to rebuild in the wake of the election, two black candidates, in a pool of six, may promise an image change. The candidates are Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state, and Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland.

While the committee has made an effort to not focus on race, questions have nonetheless emerged—as when candidate Chip Saltsman distributed a satirical song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Party leaders agree that in a year of critical issues, race won't be a significant factor, but as one Republican noted, "There certainly is an advantage of a credible message of inclusion if you have a minority as chairman.”