Former Reagan political aide Haley Barbour captured the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee Friday, replacing Rich Bond.
Barbour was elected with 90 of the possible 165 votes cast in the third round of secret ballotting for the post.Spencer Abraham of Michigan finished second with 57 votes, followed by Howard "Bo" Callaway, a former Colorado state chairman, Georgia congressman and Army secretary, with 18.
Barbour, 45, a Republican national committeeman from Mississippi, expressed his gratitude.
"Republicans today exhibited the type of talent we had present in
our party with the number of quality people who ran for this post. I am proud to be a Republican," Barbour said.
After the second ballot, former Missouri Gov. John Ash-croft, who had been campaigning hard for the post, withdrew his name but failed to throw his support to any of the other candidates.
"I pledge my complete and total support to your chairman," said Ashcroft in making his withdrawal. "I know I can count on all the friends I have made in the Republican Party to keep working toward making this a better party."
Craig Berkman, former Oregon Republican chairman, also withdrew, throwing his support to Barbour.
The campaign heated up during Thursday's opening session as fliers were circulated among the delegates. The fliers criticized Barbour for his lobbying business and accused Abraham of failing both as a state leader and in his post on the GOP Congressional Committee.
None of the candidates took responsibility for the fliers.
Barbour was a senior adviser to the Bush campaign in 1988 and worked in the Reagan White House as a special assistant and later as deputy assistant and director of the White House Office of Political Affairs, where he was responsible for all White House political activity.
Barbour, a seventh generation Mississippian, ran for the Senate in 1982 but lost to incumbent Sen. John Stennis, D-Miss.
A 1973 graduate of the University of Mississippi, Barbour directed for President Gerald Ford's 1976 campaign in seven states.
He currently is in private law practice.