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Seal of the RNC
The Republican National Committee (RNC) provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is also responsible for organizing and running the Republican National Convention. Similar committees exist in every U.S. state and most U.S. counties, although in some states party organization is structured by congressional district, allied campaign organizations being governed by a national committee. Michael Steele is the current RNC chairman, and will serve until January 2011.

The RNC's main counterpart is the Democratic National Committee.


The 1856 Republican National Convention appointed the first RNC. It consisted of one member from each state and territory to serve for four years. Each national convention since then has followed the precedent of one representative per state or territory, regardless of population. From 1924 to 1952 there was a national committeeman and national committeewoman from each state and U.S. possession, and from Washington, D.C.marker. In 1952, committee membership was expanded to include the state party chairs of states that voted Republican in the preceding presidential election, have a Republican majority in their combined U.S. representatives and senators, or have Republican governors. By 1968, membership reached 145.

The only person to have chaired the RNC and later become U.S. president is George H.W. Bush. A number of the chairs of the RNC have been state governors.

2009 RNC Chairman Selection

RNC Chairman Vote

Source: CQPolitics, and Poll Pundit
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Michael Steele 46 48 51 60 79 91
Katon Dawson 28 29 34 62 69 77
Saul Anuzis 22 24 24 31 20 Withdrew
Ken Blackwell 20 19 15 15 Withdrew
Mike Duncan 52 48 44 Withdrew
Candidate won that Round of voting
Candidate withdrew
Candidate won RNC Chairmanship

On announcing his candidacy to succeed RNC Chairman Duncan, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele described the party as being at a crossroads and not knowing what to do. "I think I may have some keys to open the door, some juice to turn on the lights," he said.

Six men ran for the 2009 RNC Chairmanship: Steele, Ken Blackwell, Mike Duncan, Saul Anuzis, Katon Dawson and Chip Saltsman. After Saltsman's withdrawal, there were only five candidates during the hotly-contested balloting January 30, 2009.

After the third round of balloting that day, Steele held a small lead over incumbent Mike Duncan of Kentuckymarker, with 51 votes to Duncan's 44. Shortly after the announcement of the standings, Duncan dropped out of contention without endorsing a candidate. Ken Blackwell, the only other African-American candidate, dropped out after the fourth ballot and endorsed Steele, though Blackwell had been the most socially conservative of the candidates and Steele had been accused of not being "sufficiently conservative." Steele picked up Blackwell's votes. After the fifth round, Steele held a ten vote lead over Katon Dawson, with 79 votes, and Saul Anuzis dropped out. After the sixth vote, he won the chairmanship of the RNC over Dawson by a vote of 91 to 77.

Mississippi Governor and former RNC chair Haley Barbour has suggested the party will focus its efforts on congressional and gubernatorial elections in the coming years rather than the next presidential election. "When I was chairman of the Republican National Committee the last time we lost the White House in 1992 we focused exclusively on 1993 and 1994. And at the end of that time, we had both houses of Congress with Republican majorities, and we’d gone from 17 Republican governors to 31. So anyone talking about 2012 today doesn’t have their eye on the ball. What we ought to worry about is rebuilding our party over the next year and particularly in 2010,” Barbour said at the November 2008 Republican Governors conference.

Chairmen of the Republican National Committee

# Chairman Term State Notes
1 Edwin D. Morgan 1856–1864 New Yorkmarker
2 Henry J. Raymond 1864–1866 New Yorkmarker
3 Marcus L. Ward 1866–1868 New Jerseymarker
4 William Claflin 1868–1872 Massachusettsmarker
5 Edwin D. Morgan 1872–1876 New Yorkmarker Second term
6 Zachariah Chandler 1876–1879 Michiganmarker
7 J. Donald Cameron 1879–1880 Pennsylvaniamarker
8 Marshall Jewell 1880–1883 Connecticutmarker
9 Dwight M. Sabin 1883–1884 Minnesotamarker
10 B. F. Jones 1884–1888 New Jerseymarker
11 Matthew S. Quay 1888–1891 Pennsylvaniamarker
12 James S. Clarkson 1891–1892 Iowamarker
13 William J. Campbell 1892 Illinoismarker Elected June 1892, Declined July 1892 (Lt Governor of IL)
14 Thomas H. Carter 1892–1896 Montanamarker Elected in place of W.J. Campbell in July 1892
15 Marcus A. Hanna 1896–1904 Ohiomarker
16 Henry Clay Payne 1904 Wisconsinmarker
17 George Bruce Cortelyou 1904–1907 New Yorkmarker
18 Harry S. New 1907–1908 Indianamarker
19 Frank Harris Hitchcock 1908–1909 Ohiomarker
20 John Fremont Hill 1909–1912 Mainemarker
21 Victor Rosewater 1912 Nebraskamarker
22 Charles D. Hilles 1912–1916 New Yorkmarker
23 William R. Willcox 1916–1918 New Yorkmarker
24 Will H. Hays 1918–1921 Indianamarker
25 John T. Adams 1921–1924 Iowamarker
26 William M. Butler 1924–1928 Massachusettsmarker
27 Hubert Work 1928–1929 Coloradomarker
28 Claudius H. Huston 1929–1930 Tennesseemarker first Southerner to be elected chairman
29 Simeon D. Fess 1930-1932 Ohiomarker
30 Everett Sanders 1932–1934 Indianamarker
31 Henry P. Fletcher 1934–1936 Pennsylvaniamarker
32 John D. M. Hamilton 1936–1940 Kansasmarker
33 Joseph W. Martin, Jr. 1940–1942 Massachusettsmarker
34 Harrison E. Spangler 1942–1944 Iowamarker
35 Herbert Brownell, Jr. 1944–1946 New Yorkmarker
36 Carroll Reece 1946–1948 Tennesseemarker
37 Hugh D. Scott, Jr. 1948–1949 Pennsylvaniamarker
38 Guy G. Gabrielson 1949–1952 New Jerseymarker
39 Arthur E. Summerfield 1952–1953 Michiganmarker
40 Wesley Roberts 1953 Kansasmarker
41 Leonard W. Hall 1953–1957 New Yorkmarker
42 Meade Alcorn 1957–1959 Connecticutmarker
43 Thruston B. Morton 1959–1961 Kentuckymarker
44 William E. Miller 1961–1964 New Yorkmarker
45 Dean Burch 1964–1965 Arizonamarker
46 Ray C. Bliss 1965–1969 Ohiomarker
47 Rogers C. B. Morton 1969–1971 Marylandmarker
48 Robert Dole 1971–1973 Kansasmarker
49 George H. W. Bush 1973–1974 Texasmarker
50 Mary Louise Smith 1974–1977 Iowamarker first woman to become RNC chair
51 William E. Brock III 1977–1981 Tennesseemarker
52 Richard Richards 1981–1983 Utahmarker
53 Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. 1983–1989 Nevadamarker Paul Laxalt served with Fahrenkopf as general chairman until 1987.
54 Lee Atwater 1989–1991 South Carolinamarker
55 Clayton Keith Yeutter 1991–1992 Nebraskamarker
56 Richard Bond 1992–1993 Missourimarker
57 Haley Barbour 1993–1997 Mississippimarker
58 Jim Nicholson 1997–2001 Coloradomarker
59 Jim Gilmore 2001–2002 Virginiamarker
60 Marc Racicot 2002–2003 Montanamarker
61 Ed Gillespie 2003–2005 Virginiamarker
62 Ken Mehlman 2005–2007 Washington, D.C.marker stepped down at end of 2006
63 Mike Duncan 2007–2009 Kentuckymarker Senator Mel Martinez served with Duncan as general chairman before stepping down in October 2007.
63 Mel Martinez 2007 Floridamarker Served with Mike Duncan as general chairman.
64 Michael Steele 2009–present Marylandmarker First African American Chairman.

2009 RNC Health Coverage-Abortion Controversy

On November 12, 2009, the Republican National Committee was involved in a controversy over its opposition to funding for abortion in government sponsored health plans. After strong support for the Stupak Amendment – which prohibited any coverage of abortion services under government-subsidized or government-operated health insurance plans operating under the terms of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, regardless of whether that coverage was itself funded by the government – it became known that the employer-based health care provided to members of the RNC provides coverage for elective abortions. Republican leaders stated they did not realize this coverage was within the health care terms, and promised to promptly remove such coverage. It has been noted that this coverage is not precisely in contradiction with the intention of the Stupak amendment because the health coverage for RNC members is private insurance, not publicly funded.

See also


  1. Armbinder, Mark. RNC Chairman Duncan Drops Re-Election Bid, January 30, 2009, The Atlantic.
  2. Cillizza, Chris. Steele Elected RNC Chair, January 30, 2009, Washington Post.
  3. Hamby, Peter. BREAKING: Steele picked to lead RNC, January 30, 2009, CNN Political Ticker.
  4. The Political Graveyard web site, A Database of Historic Cemeteries, accessed July 17, 2006.

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