Meet the new chairman of the Republican National Committee: Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who defeated South Carolina party chairman Katon Dawson by a 91-77 margin on the sixth ballot.
“As a little boy growing up in this town — this is awesome,” Steele said bluntly in accepting his victory.
Steele came six votes shy of the magic number 85 on the fifth ballot, and was able to get over the top after Michigan chairman Saul Anuzis dropped out to make it a clear two-man race. Steele is now the first African-American chairman of the RNC.
The Republicans might have realized just how awful it would have been for the GOP’s image if Steele hadn’t won. The alternative was Dawson, who until just recently belonged to an all-white country club and has said he got involved in politics as a teenage opponent of busing programs in the 1960s — not exactly the best face to oppose Barack Obama’s agenda. Dawson briefly took the lead on the fourth ballot, and after that the movement to Steele very quickly put him on top.