Micahel Steele
Cliff Owen  /  AP
FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2010 file photo, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaks during an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee, in Washington. GOP activists are making an aggressive push to recruit a challenger to Steele, whose tenure as the central party's chief has been pocked with controversy and has been a period that some leaders are eager to put behind them. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
updated 11/12/2010 2:51:17 PM ET 2010-11-12T19:51:17

A prominent Michigan Republican said Friday he is running against Michael Steele, arguing the GOP can win in 2012 only if the party chairman steps out of the limelight and allows candidates to be the voice and face of the party. Saul Anuzis, who lost his bid for Republican National Committee chairman two years ago, made his plans known in an e-mail.

"My agenda is very straightforward. I have no interest in running for office. I won't be writing a book. It is not my goal to be famous," said Anuzis, who promised to serve just one two-year term and work hard to elect Republicans "from the top to every township and city across this great country of ours."

His statement was a slap at Steele, who has generated controversy repeatedly in his tenure as party chairman, sometimes drawing attention that was detrimental to the Republican cause.

Steele has not said whether he will seek re-election to a new two-year term in January. Republicans have been seeking to recruit a strong challenger to Steele, whose tenure has been marked by ill-chosen remarks and questions about the party's finances.

Earlier this year, Steele released his book, "Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda," and angered many Republicans with his comments in interviews tied to the publication. Steele said he thought Republicans had "screwed up" for the most part in the years since Ronald Reagan was president.

In his statement, Anuzis, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, also said the GOP will need to rebuild trust with major donors who abandoned the party in 2010 and supported outside political organizations instead.

"We need these groups and their support, but they can't be expected to replace the RNC in a presidential year. We must ... bring them back to the table," he said.

Henry Barbour, a nephew of Republican Governors Association chairman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, has reached out to a half-dozen potential candidates who would challenge Steele if he seeks to keep the chairmanship. The younger Barbour, who is one of the 168 voting members of the RNC, is looking for candidates who could rally an anti-Steele voting bloc when members meet Jan. 13-16.

Among the names being considered are David Norcross, a former New Jersey party chairman, and Wisconsin GOP chairman and RNC lawyer Reince Priebus, who ran Steele's 2009 bid for chairman. Henry Barbour also has talked about the chairman's race with former North Dakota GOP Chairman Gary Emineth and Maria Cino, a Bush administration official who ran Republicans' House campaign committee in the 1990s.

Another possible candidate, Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy, is talking about a run but hasn't made a decision. Even so, he is highlighting his work as a fundraiser, a traditional role for the national committee chief.

"I've shown I can grind money out of a stone and actually get a lot for it," Healy said this week.

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