The Battle For RNC Chair Begins

In the wake of major gains in the midterm elections, Republicans are about to battle again, this time within their own party.

Former Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis is throwing his hat into the ring to challenge current Chair Michael Steele for the post.

Steele has faced increased scrutiny and criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for his leadership abilities and some verbal gaffes.

Its time for a change, Anuzis says.  "The political environment in the 2012 cycle is extremely different than the one in the 2010 cycle, when Steele became chairman.  In 2010 we needed a face and a voice for the party, that was Michael Steele, but this is a presidential cycle.  The stakes are higher.  The success or failure of whatever effort is undertaken by the party...will in part will be determined by who's running the party"  Anuzis says.

The competition for the to job is expected to be fierce.  "All of the sudden the Republican party is a hot commodity, since the last election" says political consultant Thom Serafin of Serafin and Associates.  "Now the race for RNC leader will be competitive because there are some real prizes at stake.  The ultimate prize is leader of the free world.  Everybody wants to be that quarterback"

Serafin says Steele was a good spokesman and frontman for the party, but "oftentimes he just didn't have bullets in the chamber".

While Anuzis has worked with Steele since the former Maryland lieutenant governor won the top party spot, Anuzis wants Republicans to know he doesn't think things within the party have been handled the right way. "The simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business." Anuzis said in an e-mail Friday to RNC members.  "Chairman Steele's record speaks for itself. He has his way of doing things. I have mine."

Anuzis tried this once before, running for chair in 2009, but was unsuccessful.

Some other top GOP names have also been discussed as possible challengers to Steele, including former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, but so far only a few people, including Gary Emineth of North Dakota, have jumped into the fray.

The 168 members of the RNC are expected to vote for chairman in January, which means interested candidates have just two months to campaign for the job.