In the race to elect the next Republican National Committee Chairman, Colorado GOP leader Dick Wadhams has reportedly thrown his support behind Saul Anuzis, who was state party chairman in Michigan from 2005 to 2009. Gimlet-eyed observers might call the endorsement sympathetic: Anuzis struggled with losses similar to those presided over by Wadhams in the last three years. Under Anuzis’ leadership, Michigan Republicans lost two Congressional seats and their majority in the state House.
Anuzis leadership in Michigan was made additionally controversial because he endorsed race-baiting politics.
As Ertha Melzer at the Michigan Messenger reported last week:
In a 2007 radio interview he defended Kyle Bristow, the president of the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a group that was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Bristow led YAF as it organized a Koran Desecration competition, staged a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day,” and invited holocaust denier and racial separatist Nick Griffin to speak.
“This is exactly the type of young kid we want out there,” Anuzis said on a radio program several months after YAF’s activities had been widely reported. “I’ve known Kyle for years and I can tell you I have never heard him say a racist or bigoted or sexist thing, ever.”
This year Bristow, now a law student at the University of Toledo, published White Apocalypse, a book that presents a theory that Europeans first settled North America and were killed off by “Amerindians.” The so-called Solutrean Hypothesis has quickly become popular with white supremacist and other racist groups….
“I fantasize quite often of taking the country over and implementing a real right-wing agenda that would make [conservative MSNBC commentator] Pat Buchanan and the late Sam Francis [the chief editor of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens] proud,” Bristow said. “What I mean by this is the most offensive thing possible, and what this is I will leave to your imagination.”
Though Anuzis’ business is internet campaigns, he has chosen not to clarify his support for Bristow, which has been reported on several blogs.
In an e-mail exchange with Michigan Messenger Anuzis refused to say whether he still supports Bristow and he called reports of his 2007 comments in support of Bristow “an old story, out of context and irrelevant.”
“I have no idea what Kyle has been up to since he was MSU chair,” he wrote, “so I have no idea or comment on his current status or activities.”
In 2006 the leadership of the Kent County Republican Party attributed the heavy Republican losses in West Michigan to race-baiting campaign tactics authorized by Anuzis.
That year the Republicans lost the House seat in the 75th district, one that they had held since the mid 80s, after candidate Tim Doyle and the Michigan Republican Party sent out mailers that portrayed the African-American Democratic candidate Robert Dean as a criminal.
Kent County GOP Chairman Libby Child, Co-Chair Karl Hascall, Treasurer Rusty Richter, and Secretary Carolyn Mianowski blamed the loss on that mailer and urged state Republicans not to reelect Anuzis as their leader.
A Nov. 11 2006 Grand Rapids Press article on the controversy featured excerpts from an letter issued by the west Michigan Republicans.
“We write you today to state that we cannot support his campaign for re-election and view his performance poorly,” the letter read. “The race-baiting mailers of the Michigan Republican Party cost Tim Doyle his race against Robert Dean for state representative and Dan Koorndyk his re-election for county commission. We are not happy about it.”
In addition, the letter states: “We fear that anyone who supports (Anuzis) risks associating themselves with the race-baiting tactics … .”
Anuzis defended the mailer as effective and attributed the Republican losses to other factors.
Wadhams was elected to chair the Colorado Republican Party in 2007. He ran the state party and managed the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer in 2008. Schaffer lost to Democrat Mark Udall, and GOP losses across the state made national news. Colorado voters went for Democrat Obama over John McCain for president and Democrats retained power in the state House and Senate.
This year, despite intense Tea Party energy in the state and anti-incumbent anti-Democratic “wave” voting that resulted in historic GOP gains across the nation, Colorado Republicans lost the governor’s race, a high-profile U.S. Senate race and made only moderate gains in the state legislature, although enough to win the majority in the House. Some Republicans have complained that the party under Wadhams lacked resources and inadequately vetted candidates.
The rough whipcount tallied by the National Journal’s Hotline has Anuzis trailing Wisconsin Party Chair Reince Priebus and current embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele.