Former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele is the new head of the Republican Party.
Ron Edmonds / AP Enlarge
WASHINGTON The Republican National Committee elected former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele the first black Republican National Committee chairman Friday afternoon.
Mr. Steele was the most moderate candidate in the field and was considered an outsider because he s not an RNC member.
He beat back four challengers, including incumbent Mike Duncan, who was forced to withdraw from the field midway through the balloting in the face of a lack of support, and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state.
Mr. Blackwell threw his fullest support behind Mr. Steele, who wound up in a head-to-head fight with GOP Chairman Katon Dawson.
Mr. Blackwell made his move after failing to get a majority of Republican National Committee members votes after four rounds of balloting.
Of the 168 votes to win, 85 are needed.
Current chairman Mike Duncan dropped out earlier after failing to get enough support for re-election.