US Republican Party picks new chairman, ousts Steele

Friday, January 14, 2011

WASHINGTON - Michael Steele, the first African-American to head the Republican Party, was ousted from the post Friday after two years in the job.

Steele was replaced by Reince Priebus as chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), which coordinates campaigns and fundraising for the conservative party, during a gathering of members in Maryland.

Steele was elected chairman of the RNC soon after Barack Obama was elected the country’s first African-American president.

Steele oversaw a massive swing towards Republican lawmakers in November’s congressional elections. But he was criticised by many within the party for mismanaging campaign funds and leaving the RNC about $20 million in debt.

“I will step aside because I think the party is ready for something different,” Steele said as he conceded defeat in his reelection campaign.

Priebus until now led Republicans in the state of Wisconsin, where he was praised for leading an effort to unseat key Democrats in the state, including its sitting senator and governor, in November’s elections.

Priebus will be tasked with raising funds for the RNC and leading the party’s campaign to recapture the White House from Obama in 2012.

“Now is the time for the committee to unite,” Priebus told the party’s gathering. “We must come together for the common interest.”

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