fourth ballot round and with still just 15 votes, Blackwell accepted the inevitable and withdrew from the chairman’s race. Interestingly, Blackwell threw his support behind Steele, even though they are viewed by many to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum. “We need a leader who can inspire hope, work with our policy leaders to create opportunity and have the leadership and the vision to first pull us together and then pull the nation together,” Blackwell said.
“Steele is personable, a great networker and can rebuild the party. We need someone out there who can help recruit new people and get them excited again,” said Harrison Clark, a black Republican who spent the past eight years working for the Bush administration. Young added that while all of the candidates have their strengths and the party would be comfortable with whoever wins, Steele has the broadest range of experience, having won and lost races, raised money, knocked on doors. “He’s solid across the board and we need change.”
Black Republican Elroy Sailor, who is president of JC Watts Cos., wasn’t totally surprised by Duncan’s withdrawal. He says that Duncan represents the Bush legacy. “The party recognizes that the country is moving in a new direction and if we’re to remain competitive, we have to move forward.” Sailor suspects that the votes Duncan got in the first few rounds will be split among the remaining four candidates based on whether committee members want to see the party continue its southern strategy or pursue a more holistic, broad-based route.