Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Floridian Wants Top GOP Post

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Floridian Wants Top GOP Post

Article excerpt

Austin, the first woman to chair the Florida Republican Party,

is in the running for chairwoman of the Republican National


She may be a long shot, but the race is wide open in the wake

of the November elections that saw the GOP maintain control of

the House and Senate but lose the presidency.

Republicans blame that loss, in part, to the gender gap and

they are looking for ways to close it. Many say electing a woman

to lead the party is a good way to start.

Austin, who served for six years as RNC co-chairman before

returning to Florida in 1995, is using that argument in her bid

for the job.

"We must recognize problems, like the gender gap that exists

between our party and the women of America, including many

Republican women," Austin wrote in a letter seeking support for

her candidacy. "Not only should we recognize the gender gap, we

must close it."

Austin faces some stiff competition for the job, which will be

decided by the 165 voting members at the RNC's Jan. 17 winter

meeting in Washington.

Among the likely candidates are: New Hampshire Gov. Steve

Merrill; former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber of Minnesota; state GOP

chairmen John Harrington of California, Bob Bennett of Ohio,

Tom Paukin of Texas and Rusty Paul of Georgia; and national

committeemen Charles Yobb of Michigan and David Norcross of New

Jersey. Norcross is a former legal counsel to the RNC.

"On paper, she is as formidable as anybody in the race," said

Tom Slade, chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

The negative on Austin is she's no talking head, someone who

could regularly represent the party on those Sunday morning

television talk shows. But Austin apparently has a solution for

that problem.

She has proposed a concept similar to the one being used by the

Democratic National Committee in which Don Fowler runs the

day-to-day operations and Sen. …

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