SC GOP Leader Eyeing National Post

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson has for months quietly been courting support among the Republican National Committee's members, who now are in the market for new leadership, GOP officials say.

The South Carolina auto parts salesman has a knack for raising Republican Party money. But Dawson is not alone in his bid for the RNC post. Republican leaders in different states say a growing number of hopefuls have been making calls and sending out feelers to be the leader to replace current chairman Mike Duncan, even though Duncan is said to want a new, two-year term.

Energy, a track record and the ability to raise money seem to be qualities high on many Republican officials' lists. They'll make the decision in January, when national committee members from every state and territory take a vote.

"I want to see nerves of steel," said North Carolina GOP chairwoman Linda Daves.

Dawson, 52, isn't trying to squelch the chatter about his ambitions.

"We're not at the point we're ready to make a formal announcement," Dawson said Friday. "I am certainly encouraged by the conversations I've had."

Next weekend, Dawson plans to bring RNC members from around the country to Myrtle Beach to hash over what went right and what went wrong on Election Day. Besides losing the White House, the party lost more seats in the U.S. House and Senate and gave up control of more state legislatures than it gained.

Not so for Dawson's South Carolina, where John McCain won. Here, the GOP has outsized majorities in the state legislature, holds eight of nine statewide offices, both U.S. Senate seats and four of six U.S. House seats.


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