Republicans name an African American as their party chairman
G.O.P. leaders acknowledge they have a lot of rebuilding to do in order to confront a Democratic Party which won 95 percent of the black vote in the presidential election.
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Steele made history in 2000 when he was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Maryland, the first African American to win a GOP state chairmanship.Skip to next paragraph
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In 2002, he was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland, making him the first African American elected to statewide office in his state. In 2004, Steele delivered the keynote address at the Republican convention, seen as a counter to then-Senate candidate Obama’s star turn as the Democrats’ keynoter. And in 2006, Steele was his party’s nominee for an open Senate seat, losing to Rep. Ben Cardin (D) by a margin of 55 to 44 percent. In 2007, Steele became chairman of GOPAC, a political action committee that trains and funds Republican candidates around the country. Steele is also a partner in the Washington law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.
Steele grew up in Washington, DC, and graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School, where he was class president. He earned a bachlor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington.
His family were Democrats, but Steele became a Republican on the inspiration of President Reagan’s message of self-reliance – and his single mother’s decision to work in a laundry rather than take welfare. Steele is also known as boxer Mike Tyson’s former brother-in-law.
Steele is known as a conservative, but not a hard-liner, and is expected to try to fulfill the promise of the “big tent” party that Republicans used to espouse. And in the wake of the Democrats’ successful 50-state strategy in the last two elections, where they opened and expanded operations in states once given up as hopeless to Democrats, Steele is promising a GOP response in kind.
“We’re going to bring this party to every corner, every boardroom, every neighborhood, every community,” he said Friday in his victory speech. “And we’re going to say to friend and foe alike, we want you to be part of us. We want you to work with us. And for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over.”
The Republicans assembled at Washington’s Capitol Hilton responded with cheers.