Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced Friday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, making him the first official challenge to current leader Michael Steele.
Anuzis said in a statement that the decision for him was not easy, since he regards Steele as a "friend and colleague."
"As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out," Anuzis wrote. "But the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business."
Steele has faced ongoing criticism from other GOP leaders for falling short of fundraising goals. Republican detractors have accused him of hiding the committee's debt, and of tainting the group's image because of a scandal this spring involving a donors' night out at a bondage-themed Hollywood nightclub.
Steele has acknowledged that many Republican leaders don't want him to continue his tenure. But he's pushed back against critics and repeatedly confirmed that he intends to continue serving as RNC chairman.
Anuzis alluded indirectly to the controversies on Steele's watch in his statement, saying that "Chairman Steele's record speaks for itself. He has his way of doing things. I have mine."
Anuzis listed fundraising as a priority, and pledged to "step out of the limelight" and be a "team player."
(Photo of Anuzis: AP/Paul Sancya)