RNC eyeing Dawson?


COLUMBIA — State GOP Chairman Katon Dawson's name is being floated as a contender to lead the country's Republicans, weakened by Election Day defeats across the country.

Neal Thigpen, a political science professor at Francis Marion University, said Thursday that Dawson could be well-positioned to take the reins as chairman of the Republican National Committee, especially as the South Carolina GOP held strong against a Democratic tidal wave elsewhere.

Given the state of the party now, earning the position at this time could be an easier battle but the payoff would be less, Thigpen said.

"Being the chairman of the out party in terms of power is really fool's gold," Thigpen said. "What I mean by it is, you've got usually a thankless job in rebuilding the party, rasing more money and trying to get the party back on its feet."

Dawson, the country's third longest-serving state GOP chairman, said he is flattered that his name has been mentioned in publications, including The Washington Post and TIME, and that he would be interested in the position but has not decided.

Right now, Dawson said his focus is on helping his party analyze the election and figure out where to go next. He has invited colleagues and members of the national committee to Myrtle Beach next weekend for an information gathering.

Thigpen said it would be tradition for current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan to step down, given the party's presidential loss. Duncan was elected to the position in January 2007. "Someone's got to pay," Thigpen said.

Thigpen said as the contenders line up, he'd expect a "scrap" for the job. But, he said, Dawson would hold up well, considering his winning record in South Carolina and Dawson's personal assets. "He's done a sterling job here," Thigpen said. "He's young. He's an attractive man. He's smart. He's got some money.

"He loves grabbing the other side by the hair. You've got to have that kind of ability."