Michael Steele Gets His First Challenger

The insurgency against RNC Chair Michael Steele has officially begun. Former Michigan Republican Party chair Saul Anuzis announced to the 168 voting RNC members this morning that he’s running for Steele’s job.

“[T]he simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012,” Anuzis wrote in a letter posted to his website this morning. “We will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.”

Anuzis squared off against Steele in the chair’s race last year, losing to the former Maryland Lt. Governor. Now he’s the first of what is expected to be a slew of candidates who will challenge Steele after a gaffe-filled period at the RNC with Steele at the helm.Anuzis steers clear of personal attacks on Steele in his letter, but his disdain for the way the RNC has been run under the current chair is palpable.

“We can’t rely on our wins in 2010 to carry us to success in 2012. We also can’t win in 2012 unless the RNC re-establishes itself as the powerful force that put us over the top in 2000 and 2004,” he writes. “But to be a force, the RNC must change and that requires new leadership at the top. I am offering you an alternative, a choice, a different approach to the leadership and stewardship of our party.”

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Best Boss Ever? Michael Steele & The RNC Interns]

Anuzis told The Hotline‘s Reid Wilson that his goal is to refocus RNC attention on politicking. Yesterday, Connecticut GOP Chair Chris Healy — another potential Steele rival — told Roll Call that Steele’s term has too often been focused on the fallout from what Healy called Steele’s “nutty and careless statements.”

Anuzis seems to be running on offering an alternative to Steele’s big personality.

“What the RNC needs to do is regain it’s position as the dominant GOTV and funding machine, get back to the fundamentals and do the ‘blocking and tackling’ on behalf of our candidates,” he told Wilson.

In his announcement letter, he takes a few swipes at Steele’s extracurricular activities.

“My agenda is very straightforward,” he writes. “I have no interest in running for office. I won’t be writing a book. It is not my goal to be famous.”

RNC members will vote for the next chair when they meet in mid-January. With Anuzis officially in the race — and Healy maybe getting in — the field is really starting to fill up, as Wilson reports:

Others contemplating a bid include [former South Carolina GOP chair Katon] Dawson, former chairman Mike Duncan, Connecticut party chief Chris Healy, Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus, former Nevada Gov. Bob List and former Ambassador Ann Wagner, a new entrant into the field.