By Ralph Z. Hallow and David Eldridge, The Washington Times
EmbattledÂ Republican Party ChairmanÂ Michael S. Steele announced Monday that he will run for a second two-year term next month, setting up a pitched battle for control of theÂ party as it seeks to build on the big gains it made in November’s midterm elections.
Mr. Steele, who has proved a combative and at times polarizing figure as head of theÂ Republican National Committee, confounded political handicappers, who predicted he would step aside after a tumultuous two years at the helm of theÂ RNC.
Jim Bopp, aÂ Republican National Committee member from Indiana, toldÂ The Washington Times thatÂ Mr. Steele announced his decision in a conference call with supporters and officials of the 168-memberRNC on Monday evening.
Mr. Bopp took umbrage with the statement.
“It is apparent that whenÂ Steeleloses, he wants to take down theÂ RNC with him,”Â Mr. Boppsaid. “This is the threat he has made by playing the race card – he will smear theÂ RNC by saying we are all racist by not voting for him.”
The decision byÂ Mr. Steele caps months of speculation, controversy and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering by the chairman’s critics and supporters alike as his two-year term was drawing to a close.
“Tonight, I come to my bosses with a record that only you can judge, based upon directions you made clear to me from the very beginning,”Â Mr. Steele said in his conference call. “Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings. No excuses. No lies. No hidden agenda.”
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