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Gillespie Named RNC Chairman

The Republican National Committee named Washington lobbyist and GOP strategist Ed Gillespie as its national chairman Monday to replace Marc Racicot, who will head the re-election effort for President Bush, said Republican officials.

Gillespie, 41, was a general strategist for Elizabeth Dole's successful Senate campaign in 2002 and served as a senior communications adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 — a major step up from his first GOP job in which he worked the party's phone banks.

A partner in the lobbying firm Quinn, Gillespie & Associates, Republican officials said Gillespie will not lobby, nor engage in any policy discussion with clients of his lobbying firm. He will forgo his salary, but he is not divesting his ownership stake in the company.

Racicot came under criticism when he was named RNC chairman in December 2001 because he would not agree to stop doing business with his lobbying firm, Bracewell & Patterson. He promised to be cautious about doing any work that could put the White House or the RNC in an awkward situation.

In the 1990s, Gillespie was a communications director for the RNC and a spokesman for former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas. Gillespie also worked closely with former RNC chairman Haley Barbour as a political consultant and a lobbyist.

Racicot, a former governor of Montana, moves to the campaign to re-elect Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. During his tenure as RNC chairman, the party regained control of the Senate in the 2002 midterm elections and improved its numbers in the House, bucking the historical trends that typically work against the party occupying the White House. The RNC used a strong get-out-the-vote effort with an emphasis on grass-roots contact with voters.

"The American people have come to know George Bush as a person and a leader, and we'll make that case — that he has been effective and honest and a very important force in a very troubled world," Racicot told The Associated Press during an interview Friday at the RNC's Capitol Hill headquarters.

Mr. Bush has asked Gillespie to serve as chairman, but his appointment won't be official until the full RNC votes at its summer meeting in New York in July.

The RNC also named Maria Cino to be its deputy chairman, replacing Jack Oliver who went to the Bush-Cheney campaign last month, and chose Christine Iverson as press secretary. Cino was national political director in the early stages of Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and worked at the RNC and the Commerce Department. Iverson was spokeswoman for Republican John Thune, who failed to unseat Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson in last year's Senate race in South Dakota.

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