The candidates seeking the critical post of chairman of the Republican Party will participate in a debate next month that will partly focus on pro-life issues, including abortion.
With the 2010 elections having concluded and with current pro-life Republican Party chairman Michael Steele facing questions of his handling of the party, the battle is beginning for who will run the show.
The chairmanship of the GOP is important because the party apparatus will lay the groundwork for the massive get out the vote campaign necessary to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama.
Steele is pro-life, but he has disappointed many grassroots conservatives by a lackluster fundraising effort and a poor get out the vote effort that is cited by some election experts as hurting pro-life Senate candidates in Washington, Colorado, West Virginia and elsewhere.
He has been beset by a string of gaffes and will likely face stiff competition to keep his post — which he has said he wants to do.
To evaluate those candidates seeking to challenge him for the post, the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans for Tax Reform announced today they are co-sponsoring a debate featuring candidates for Republican National Committee chairmanship on January 3.
“It is critical that the next RNC chairman sincerely recognize the electoral power of the pro-life movement, can articulate its message, and is prepared to advance its priorities,” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. “We look forward to vetting the candidates on life through thoughtful questioning and open discussion.”
Grover Norquist, president of ATR said that, while the actual vote for RNC Chairman will be made by the 168 members of the committee, “the impact will be felt by all.”
“Therefore, every activist should play a role in questioning the candidates and communicating with RNC members who cast votes…just like lobbying your Congressman and Senators,” he said.
Steele received his first major challenger in Michigan RNC committeeman and former state party chairman Saul Anuzis, who ran against Steele in the last election for party chairman.
The Wisconsin Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus, announced on Monday he is the latest candidate to seek the chairmanship. Ann Wagner, the former RNC co-chairwoman, is another announced candidate for the post.
Other names under discussion as possible candidates include Gentry Collins, the ex-political director of the RNC; Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO and unsuccessful California Senate candidate; and Maria Cino, who was CEO of the 2008 Republican convention in Minnesota where John McCain was nominated for president.
The election for the new chairman will take place in Washington in January and Steele has not said whether he will run for re-election.
During his tenure, Steele was under fire for his abortion comments when, in an interview with GQ, Steele said he thought women have, according to the interviewer, a “right to choose abortion.”
“Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice,” he said. “Yeah. Absolutely.”
Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, recently wrote that the Republican Party needs a new chairman heading into the 2012 presidential election cycle who is more committed to pro-life values and has a stronger fundraising and voter turnout ability.