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Katon Dawson

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Katon Dawson

Katon Dawson
Chairperson of the South Carolina Republican Party
In office
May 2002 – May 2009
Preceded by Henry McMaster
Succeeded by Karen Floyd
Personal details
Born (1956-02-29) February 29, 1956 (age 58)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of South Carolina, Columbia

Katon Edwards Dawson (born February 29, 1956) is an American politician from the state of South Carolina, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party[1] and was a 2009 candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Early life

Dawson was born in Columbia, South Carolina in then-heavily Democratic South Carolina, his parents helped organize the state's first GOP precincts. Dawson claimed his political interest came from attending a Barry Goldwater speech in 1964, and first volunteered for Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.[1] He also considers the desegregation of his high-school in the 1960s as a major event that inspired him to enter politics, as Dawson was fiercely anti-desegregation. Dawson commented in an interview,

Dawson graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Political career

Dawson was elected Richland County GOP vice chairman in 1994 and state party chair 2002.[1]

In 2006, despite nationwide losses by the Republican party, the South Carolina GOP carried eight of nine statewide constitutional offices.[2]

In August 2007 Dawson drew national attention for his decision to move the 2008 South Carolina Republican presidential primary from Feb. 2 to January 29, preserving the state's "first in the South" primary. In every election since 1980, the winner of the South Carolina primary has won the Republican presidential nomination.[3]

During Dawson's chairmanship, the South Carolina GOP has made progress with outreach to African-Americans and in promoting minorities to leadership positions,[4][5] electing its first African-American member of the Republican National Committee from the South,[6] and in 2008 the first black Republican State Representative since Reconstruction was elected.[7]

In August 2008, Dawson personally argued in an open letter to the Forest Lake Country Club, a whites-only country club of which he was a member, to include minority members (and later resigned his 12-year membership)[8] stating "we have a responsibility to expeditiously make right this longstanding wrong."[9] According to Dawson, he first learned of the restriction on the 80-year-old deed in 2008, and while there are no black members, African-Americans are frequent guests at the club and on the golf course.[10] Though Dawson claims to have been only a "12-year-member" of Forest Lake Country Club, his parents were members for decades before that and he and his siblings had grown up at the club, using the facilities since their childhoods in the late '50s and 1960s. This make his claim to have been unaware of racial segregation at the club questionable. Dawson became the first state Republican chair to endorse the "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." campaign launched by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's organization American Solutions.[11]

Dawson expressed his interest in chairing the Republican National Committee in October 2007 when reports confirmed Senator Mel Martinez would be stepping down,[12] but did not actively campaign[13] until he announced his official bid on November 24, 2008 for the 2009 RNC Chairmanship Election.[14] Dawson was one of two candidates to earn votes on each of the six votes taken; he lost the final ballot to winner Michael Steele, 91-77.[15]

RNC Chairman Vote

Source: CQPolitics,[16] and Poll Pundit [17]

Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Michael Steele 46 48 51 60 79 91
Katon Dawson 28 29 34 62 69 77
Saul Anuzis 22 24 24 31 20 Withdrew
Ken Blackwell 20 19 15 15 Withdrew
Mike Duncan 52 48 44 Withdrew
     Candidate won that Round of voting
     Candidate withdrew
     Candidate won RNC Chairmanship

Personal life

Dawson lives with his wife Candy in Columbia, S.C. They have two children, Anna and Katon Jr.[1]

See also

Biography portal

References

External links

  • Message from SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson—official South Carolina Republican Party website
  • Raleigh-Durham News & Observer Katon Dawson tag index
  • USA Today Katon Dawson tag index
  • The Next Right Katon Dawson tag index
Party political offices
Preceded by
Henry McMaster
Chairperson of the South Carolina Republican Party
2002–2009
Succeeded by
Karen Floyd
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