Katon Dawson

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Katon Dawson
Chairperson of the South Carolina Republican Party
In office
May 2002 – May 2009
Preceded by Henry McMaster
Succeeded by Karen Floyd
Personal details
Born (1956-02-29) February 29, 1956 (age 59)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of South Carolina, Columbia

Katon Edwards Dawson (born February 29, 1956) is an American politician from the state of South Carolina, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party[1] and was a 2009 candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Early life[edit]

Dawson was born in Columbia, South Carolina in then-heavily Democratic South Carolina, his parents helped organize the state's first GOP precincts. Dawson his political interest came from attending a Barry Goldwater speech in 1964, and first volunteered for Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.[1]

Dawson graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Political career[edit]

Dawson was elected Richland County GOP vice chairman in 1994 and state party chair 2002.[1]

In 2006, despite nationwide losses by the Republican party, the South Carolina GOP carried eight of nine statewide constitutional offices.[2]

In August 2007 Dawson drew national attention for his decision to move the 2008 South Carolina Republican presidential primary from Feb. 2 to January 29, preserving the state's "first in the South" primary. In every election since 1980, the winner of the South Carolina primary has won the Republican presidential nomination, except in 2012 when Newt Gingrich won the primary and did not secure the nomination.[3]

During Dawson's chairmanship, the South Carolina GOP has made progress with outreach to African-Americans and in promoting minorities to leadership positions,[4][5] electing its first African-American member of the Republican National Committee from the South,[6] and in 2008 the first black Republican State Representative since Reconstruction was elected.[7]

Dawson became the first state Republican chair to endorse the "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." campaign launched by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's organization American Solutions.[8]

Dawson expressed his interest in chairing the Republican National Committee in October 2007 when reports confirmed Senator Mel Martinez would be stepping down,[9] but did not actively campaign[10] until he announced his official bid on November 24, 2008 for the 2009 RNC Chairmanship Election.[11] Dawson was one of two candidates to earn votes on each of the six votes taken; he lost the final ballot to winner Michael Steele, 91-77.[12]

RNC Chairman Vote

Source: CQPolitics,[13] and Poll Pundit [14]

Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Michael Steele 46 48 51 60 79 91
Katon Dawson 28 29 34 62 69 77
Saul Anuzis 22 24 24 31 20 Withdrew
Ken Blackwell 20 19 15 15 Withdrew
Mike Duncan 52 48 44 Withdrew
     Candidate won that Round of voting
     Candidate withdrew
     Candidate won RNC Chairmanship

Personal life[edit]

Dawson lives with his wife Candy in Columbia, S.C. They have two children, Anna and Katon Jr.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Adcox, Seanna, GOP chairman relishes putting state in limelight, AP, August 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Goldsmith, Brian S.C. GOP Chair Says Electability is Key, CBS News, January 18, 2008.
  3. ^ Preston, Mark South Carolina GOP moves up primary, adds to 2008 scramble, CNN.com, August 9, 2007.
  4. ^ Smith, Gina. Black Republicans forging new paths in S. Carolina, The State, October 13, 2008.
  5. ^ McPike, Erin. Alexander Urges Republicans To Keep After Black Votes, Congress Daily, November 21, 2008.
  6. ^ Gizzi, John. Party Time, Human Events, June 30, 2008.
  7. ^ Wilson, Reid. They've Got Game, Campaigns and Elections' Politics Magazine, August 31, 2008.
  8. ^ Slade, David. GOP head backs oil drilling, Charleston Post and Courier, July 10, 2008.
  9. ^ McPike, Erin. SC's Dawson Eyes RNC Post, The Hotline, October 3, 2007.
  10. ^ Cillizza, Chris. The Race Within the Republican Race, The Fix, washingtonpost.com, January 14, 2008.
  11. ^ Mark Murray. Dawson officially enters RNC race, MSNBC, November 24, 2008
  12. ^ Burns, Alexander. Steele: 'How do you like me now?', Politico, January 30, 2009
  13. ^ CQ Politics (January 30, 2009). "Republican Choose Michael Steele as Party Chairman". 
  14. ^ PollPundit.com (January 30, 2009). "RNC Chairman Vote: Live Coverage". 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Henry McMaster
Chairperson of the South Carolina Republican Party
Succeeded by
Karen Floyd