Benkiser for RNC Co-Chair?

State Republican chair eyes joint run with former Ohio secretary of State

Benkiser: Turning the nation red, just like she's done to Texas (hang on a minute, that can't be right.)
Benkiser: Turning the nation red, just like she's done to Texas (hang on a minute, that can't be right.)

Last week, Republican Party of Texas Chair Tina Benkiser formally founded an alliance with former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to run as a slate for the Republican National Committee chair (Blackwell would be chair, while Benkiser would get the co-chair slot.)

Admitting in her announcement that "2009 will be a rebuilding year," Benkiser tried to boost her credentials and wrote, "In the last few election cycles, Republicans have won almost 500 seats previously held by Democrats, making historic gains in every area of our state." Which only poses the question, how many is few?

Benkiser is well known in Texas, but who is Blackwell? He was a pretty unsuccessful secretary of state, facing multiple suits over election law violations, then his office released massive numbers of social security numbers not once but twice. Finally, in 2006, he lost a run for Ohio governor to Democrat Ted Strickland (actually, going down 60%-37% would normally be considered a campaign career-ending injury.) However, he's reportedly very popular with several mega-churches, and a pretty socially conservative record can't hurt in this race.

But that could be a problem for the Republicans. Part of the success Libertarians had in the early part of the election cycle was down to free-market Republicans, some of whom take a dim view of Blackwell over his flip-flop on the Tax Expenditure Limitation amendment, a state budget-limiting proposal that he first backed and then opposed. But on a bigger scale, the fiscal Republicans are already concerned about the religiosity of the party. Taking it to an even more conservative Christian place could finally start to alienate them enough that they (and their campaign donations) begin to drift away. But that has been threatened for years, so no-one is holding their breath on that.

Yet for all Benkiser's self-congratulations, 2008 was a bad year for Republicans, especially in the legislature. Add on that Blackburn's tainted reputation from the Ohio 2004 elections, and the dream ticket doesn't look so dreamy after all.

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