BC-Senate-Republicans 11-17 0262 BC-Senate-Republicans,240

Republicans choose Elizabeth Dole to head 2006 Senate campaigns

By FREDERIC J. FROMMER

Associated Press Writer

Senate Republicans on Wednesday narrowly chose North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole (search) to lead their campaign operations for 2006.

The race for chairing the National Republican Senatorial Committee (search) pit Dole, a familiar face who led the Red Cross and is married to former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, against Sen. Norm Coleman (search) of Minnesota, an energetic politician who defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale in 2002. Both are first term-senators.

Dole, 68, won the job after getting 28 votes to 27 votes for Coleman in a caucus oocratic-leaning state, his appeal across party lines could help Republicans win Senate battleground states in 2006.

Dole's supporters said she would help Republicans win over female and minority voters by putting a "different face on the party."

As the new chairwoman, Dole will be responsible for raising money and recruiting candidates for the party in the 2006 Senate races. She also becomes part of the GOP Senate leadership team.

Virginia Sen. George Allen, who publicly backed Dole, is stepping down as the committee chairman after two years. In the 2004 election, the GOP expanded its Senate majority by four seats.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has chosen New York Sen. Chuck Schumer as its new chairman.