Jeanue Austin Throws Her Hat into the Ring for RNC Chair

May 25, 1996 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

The election to succeed Haley Barbour as RNC Chair will be held 1/17 at the RNC winter meeting. The RNC has 165 voting members; 83 votes are needed to win.

AUSTIN: Jeanie Austin, ex-RNC co-chair and "grande dame" of the FL GOP, announced her entry 11/22. Austin "said her decision to run was fairly sudden." She "said she already was hitting the phones," working on a letter to cmte members and making fund- raising plans (Holton, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/22).

Austin writes in a letter to FL GOP chair Tom Slade: "We must recognize problems, like the gender gap that exists between our Party and the women of America, including many Republican women. Not only should we recognize the gender gap, we must close it. We cannot permit the Democrats to define us and, at the same time, scare the American people into once more accepting policies and programs that, not too long ago, had brought this great nation to its knees and to the brink of economic and social disaster... The men and women we elect to lead the [RNC] into the new century must not only understand where we've been, but also have a clear vision of where our Party needs to go and what we have to do to get there" (11/22).

Austin was FL GOP chair from '84-'89 and RNC co-chair from '89-'95. As Co-Chair, she wrote an introductory letter to the incoming Republicans of the 104th Congress in 1994, urging them to work with Log Cabin Republicans.

Text of 1994 Letter by Jeanue Austin to GOP Congress

December 13, 1994

In my role as Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I have had the pleasure to meet with a variety of coalitions that work on behalf of the Republican Party. I've had the opportunity to hear the perspectives from within our Party's big tent from such groups as the Republican Asian Americans, Young Republicans, Pachyderms and the Council of 100, just to name a few. Some are official RNC auxiliaries and others work outside the RNC structure. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Richard Tafel, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization.

I found our meeting very informative. The Log Cabin Clubs formed a national federation with just nine clubs in 1990, and contributed to the elections of Governor Pete Wilson and Governor William Weld that year. Today, they have forty-two clubs in 31 states around the country. Insight Magazine recently described LCR as the fastest growing Republican organization in the country. One year ago, Rich left his position in the Weld administration to head up the full time office in Washington, DC.

I was impressed with their record of support for our candidates around the country. Log Cabin played an important role in many of our victories in 1993, and in this past election cycle they have raised over $200,000 for Republican candidates through federal and state PAC donations and by serving on host committees for major fund-raising events. As you know, LCR is not an official RNC auxiliary and hence can make contributions independently. They played their part in keeping Republican incumbents in office in the House, Senate and state houses. They also worked diligently in support of many GOP challengers and candidates for open seats, many of whom were elected to create our new majority.

Log Cabin was instrumental in turning out gay and lesbian support for Republicans this year. A New York Times poll, published on November 13, showed that the gay vote for Republicans jumped from 23% in 1992 to 40% this year. This is another example of how inclusive our Republican message was in 1994.

Because of the role Log Cabin has played in our Party, they have been under attack from the gay political establishment, which claims to be bi-partisan but is, in fact, staunchly Democrat. The executive director of one such group, the Human Rights Campaign Fund, stated that "the Log Cabin people are kidding themselves and our community if they believe that Republican Party cares about the lesbian and gay community", and linked the Log Cabin's vigorous support of U.S. Senate challenger Mitt Romney to "asking for the lesbian and a gay community to be lynched in this country." You may not be surprised to learn that Log Cabin's most virulent critic in Congress is Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

Many Americans are struggling with the issue of homosexuality. The way for the issue to be resolved is through education, not confrontation. I'm glad that Log Cabin Republicans exist as a resource for Republican members of Congress.

I hope you and your staff will find time to meet with Rich, if you have not already done so, when he calls you at the start of the next Congress. We will maintain our Republican majority if we focus on the issues that unite us most. I, for one, look forward to a long majority and a united Party as we move into the 1996 Presidential election cycle.


Jeanie Austin
Co-Chair, Republican National Committee