Ann Wagner officially announced her bid for chairwoman of the Republican National Committee in a video on Monday morning.
“2012 will be a challenging election cycle,” she said. “The RNC needs to be funded to its maximum obligations. We must be efficient, relevant, professional and credible.”
Wagner, who is one of several candidates seeking current RNC Chairman Michael Steele's job, does not mention Steele in her announcement. But the “relevant, professional and credible” remark has a subtext of some of the increasing criticism of Steele's tenure. The party gained seats, but Republicans have openly said Steele's gaffes embarrassed them and questioned his handling of the committee's fundraising.
In the second half of the video Wagner runs down her service to the Republican Party, especially in Missouri. Wagner started as a committeewoman in Lafayette Township, and she noted the swing state has moved toward Republicans since 2000.
“When I chaired the Missouri Republican Party we took control of both houses of our General Assembly for the first time in 50 years,” she said. “We also elected a Republican governor and a Republican U.S. Senator and delivered Missouri’s electoral college votes for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. We’ve grown from holding three of nine Congressional districts to holding six of nine today.”
Eventually Wagner was promoted to co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Bush appointed her ambassador to Luxembourg, and in the summer of 2009 she returned to Missouri to as chairwoman of Rep. Roy Blunt’s successful bid for Senate. Because of her work on Blunt’s Senate bid, Missouri Republicans wondered whether Wagner was laying the groundwork for a Senate or gubernatorial bid in 2012.
In the announcement, Wagner also emphasized her experience with redistricting, which will be a primary focus of both national committees in 2011.
“Redistricting is upon us, and the GOP is well-positioned in many state capitals,” she said. “I’ve held state leadership positions for the last two redistricting cycles in 1991 and 2001. I know how to move our party forward through this often difficult and complex process to maximize our gains.”
Tennessee committeeman John Ryder told Roll Call earlier this month that he had encouraged Wagner to get in the race.
“She’s done a good job in Missouri, and she’s done a good job with the recently completed Senate campaign in Missouri,” he said. “She has the kind of presence and enthusiastic personality that works well with donors.”