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Florida GOP chair challenges Nicholson

By Carin Dessauer/CNN

WASHINGTON (November 18) -- The first official challenge to Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Jim Nicholson was issued Wednesday by Florida GOP party Chairman Tom Slade, state party officials told CNN.

Slade first disclosed his candidacy in a letter he sent to RNC members Tuesday night.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, Slade writes, "This campaign is about the future of the Republican Party, and the shared vision and agenda we must put in front of the American people. This will be a positive campaign about the advocacy of ideas and programs that will enhance our opportunities for victory. There is no place in our committee for any negative or divisive campaigning."

Earlier this week, Nicholson warned a challenge to his leadership could trigger "turmoil or a bloodbath" inside the GOP.

Slade indicated in the letter he was establishing a campaign committee "to eliminate any perceived conflict between my duties as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and this candidacy."

Slade will court support at the Republican Governor's Association meeting in New Orleans later this week.

Nicholson was elected in a contentious January 1997 election following the party's defeat in the 1996 presidential election.

He suffered the difficult fate of having to step into the shoes of the then-Chairman Haley Barbour, who was viewed as the committee's strongest leader.

Other names of potential challengers to Nicholson have been circulated and some party operatives believe that Slade will not be Nicholson's only challenger.

The election for RNC chairman is January 21 in Washington, D.C.



RELATED SITES

Republican National Committee Web site

Republican Party of Florida Web site



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Wednesday, November 18, 1998

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