J.C. Watts "encouraged" to run for RNC chair

Former Republican Rep. J.C. Watts CBS

Updated: 11:17 a.m. ET

As the GOP continues to grapple with the implications of big losses among African-American and Latino voters in the 2012 election, J.C. Watts, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, is laying the groundwork for a potential bid to be chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Watts, an African-American who served in the House of Representatives between 1995 and 2003, is being  "encouraged" to run for RNC chairman, a Partner at Watts Consulting Group confirmed to CBS News, and the former congressman has suggested that if elected he'd prioritize GOP outreach among African-Americans.

"My concern right now, and I don't say this necessarily as a candidate [for RNC chairman], my concern is that as a Republican, every single Republican in America ought to be concerned about what has happened in 2008 and 2012," Watts told Politico, which first reported the story. "In this business, if you're not growing, you're dying."

Watts, currently the chairman of the consulting firm J.C. Watts Companies, has made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the GOP's recent efforts to build support among African-American voters: In a July interview with CBSNews.com, he questioned that the RNC had dedicated so little time and money to establishing serious ties with leaders in the black community. He also wondered why, for example, the GOP wasn't working harder to form strong relationships with southern black religious leaders.

"Republicans think that the NAACP is the only voice in the black community," he said. "It is a voice in the black community. But it's not the only voice."

If Watts does decide to enter the contest, he'll face an uphill battle against current RNC chair Reince Priebus, who has already announced he'll be seeking a second term. In an email announcing his re-election bid, Priebus touted the support of more than 130 RNC members, more than enough to re-elect him.

On the Democratic side, Politico reports that President Obama has appealed to DNC members to keep current chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., at the helm.

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