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Ken Blackwell to Run for RNC Chair

Townhall Contributing Editor Ken Blackwell throws his hat in the race.  Here's his letter to RNC Members:

After prayerful consideration, I have decided to become a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee. I write today to ask for your vote and endorsement.

I will be attempting to reach you by telephone to personally ask for your support. Meanwhile, please allow me to introduce myself and present my qualifications and philosophy.

I reside in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I formerly served as a council member and mayor. Afterwards, I ran four times for statewide office in Ohio. I was elected as State Treasurer once and Secretary of State twice ... and lost a race for Governor. Including primaries, I have run for public office 17 times, winning on 13 of those occasions.

I am a fiscally and socially conservative author and activist, having served in the past as a fellow at The Heritage Foundation and currently for Family Research Council, and as Vice Chairman of the 2008 Republican National Convention Platform Committee. I am a member of the board of directors of the National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union and the Club for Growth. I am a contributing editor for and former contributing editor for the New York Sun. My columns have frequently appeared in the Washington Times, the New York Post and National Review Online, among other publications. I have been a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and network news programs. In 2000, I was honored to serve as the national General Chairman of Steve Forbes' presidential campaign.[# More #]

I offer an extensive background in fundraising, business and financial matters. During my 2006 gubernatorial campaign, I raised $12 million, much of it one call at a time. I was an investor/founding partner in a successful company that owned 20 radio stations. And I even own a small part of the Cincinnati Reds.

As you may be aware, I have taken some controversial stands in Ohio through the years. I vocally opposed tax increases offered by a Republican Governor and helped to successfully lead the fight to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban government recognition of same-sex marriages. The Marriage Amendment passed with 61% of the vote, despite opposition from many of Ohio's leading Republicans. Along the way, I've made some Ohio Republicans angry, but I've always tried to take the side of less government and more freedom.

I've survived interviews with Keith Olbermann, testified before Congress, prevented voter fraud from overturning the results of a U.S. presidential election and fought the left in federal court more times than you can imagine. I have been tried and tested, though I'll admit that I've never been called "mavericky" by Tina Faye.

My wife, Rosa, and I married in 1968 while I attended Xavier University on a football scholarship. I'm proud to report that 40 years later ... she's still my sweetheart. We have three adult children. Rosa has put up with politics and me for all of these years. And I'm proud to report that I've gotten clearance from Rosa for one more vital mission.

In the aftermath of the November 2008 elections, I began closely watching the election for RNC chairman and have given this race careful consideration.

So here I am, appealing to you for your vote, and I am ready to earn it.

I am a strong believer in formality, good manners ... mutual respect. But for the next few weeks, I am going to be very direct and blunt. The RNC needs a more basic and more comprehensive change of course than my competitors have thus far presented or, frankly, envisioned.

It is time to completely remake the Republican Party by returning to our core philosophy (limited government, traditional values and a strong defense), reaching voters more effectively (by better utilization of technology, targeting and voter identification and turnout), and reorganizing the RNC itself (spending smarter, replacing staff and consultants and modernizing our fundraising infrastructure).

In short, the old promise that you've received from candidates for chairman every two years that you will have "more input" ... just isn't going to cut it anymore. You must demand specifics.

At a time when the Republican National Committee needs comprehensive reorganization and a completely new direction, all of the announced candidates for Chairman have basically proposed continuing the status quo with a few cosmetic changes.

In fact, the only serious and thoughtful effort to overhaul our broken system has come from a gentleman who is not even running for chairman, Virginia National Committeeman Morton Blackwell. Morton sent each candidate for chairman a survey asking 37 tough questions. I have included a link at the bottom of this letter for your viewing pleasure. (I should clarify that Morton and I are not related and that he has not endorsed any candidate for chairman.)

Each candidate for chairman has emphasized the importance of technology. And technology is important ... but we need to use technology in the right ways. We need to use technology to identify voters, energize the base, and communicate with younger voters in the venues where they want to communicate.

We also need substantive changes in the way the RNC operates.

I will be proposing an "RNC Conservative Resurgence Plan" that will be a dramatic overhaul of the way the RNC does business. I have a general outline of what I believe this plan should entail, and I will be contacting members of the RNC in the next week to gather additional ideas for inclusion.

For far too long, the Republican National Committee has been run by consultants rather than by the members. I will be utilizing the experience of the folks who win elections in the states, rather than just the consultants in DC who get paid regardless of whether we win or lose.

Micro-targeting is a great new technology that has been useful in our voter contact efforts across America. But I fear that Republicans have used micro-targeting for GOTV when we need to rely on old-fashioned voter identification, regardless of the cost. Consultants have encouraged us all to spend money on items that are commissionable while ignoring the ground game. But just as our country should not ignore the principles upon which our nation was founded, our party would be mistaken to ignore the words of Abraham Lincoln just before he helped form what we now call the Republican Party:

"Organize the whole state so that every Whig can be brought to the polls... Divide the county into small districts and appoint in each a sub-committee. Make a perfect list of all the voters and ascertain with certainty for which they will vote, keep a constant watch on the doubtful voters and...Have them talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence, and on Election Day see that every Whig is brought to the polls." -Abraham Lincoln 1/21/1840

Voter registration must be a major emphasis for the Republican Party. Of course, we start at a competitive disadvantage with the Democrats and ACORN since we are strictly limited to registering people who actually exist ... and we do not get the privilege of being funded by the government. But here is an outline of how we can catch up:

- Hire a large team of coordinators to work with churches across the country to help them register the members of their congregations who are not registered to vote;

- Expend an unprecedented amount of RNC funding to build vibrant College Republican chapters on every major university campus in the nation and use those chapters as a base to register young people to join the Republican Party, and;

- Hire teams of workers to walk door-to-door in targeted neighborhoods to register voters.

As we begin this effort to rebuild the Republican Party, we must not fall for artificial reform at the RNC. And we must not be discouraged.

There is an enormous task ahead and we have experienced some serious losses. But I remember another point in time when conservatives were facing insurmountable odds. I remember when Ronald Reagan was defeated at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Possibly, at no other time in history were conservatives so heartbroken.

But Ronald Reagan was a man of vision. Do you remember the speech he gave the day after his loss that kicked off the then-undeclared 1980 presidential campaign and gave us all hope for a comeback?

"Sure there's a disappointment in what happened. But the cause goes on. Don't get cynical because ... look at yourselves and what you were willing to do and recognize that there are millions and millions of Americans out there that want what you want ... that want it to be that way ... that want it to be a shining city on a hill."

We were greatly discouraged on that day. But during the next decade or so, Ronald Reagan served two successful terms as President, Republicans gained control of the US Senate, income taxes were slashed, the conservative movement grew and prospered like never before ... and the Soviet Union collapsed and split apart.

We can have great success and take back Congress and the White House. But we must make real changes at the Republican National Committee in order to make it happen.

Please give me your vote and support in the election for Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

I am ready to make the tough decisions. I am ready to take the heat. I have spent my entire life preparing myself for a job such as this one. I have the passion and the record to match it.

Thank you for considering my candidacy.

God Bless You ... and Merry Christmas!

Ken Blackwell


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