Gillespie to chair Republican State Leadership Committee

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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In a sign that Republican leaders believe their chances of success in this year’s midterm elections have risen dramatically, the Republican State Leadership Committee plans to announce on Monday that Washington heavy-hitter Ed Gillespie will take the helm of the organization.

Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman, told The Daily Caller that as the group’s leader, he will bring a “strategic approach” to winning state races across the country that could have a “real impact on redistricting,” which will happen after this year’s census.

“You can really leverage a lot of seats in Congress with some smart targeting in state House and Senate races,” he said.

The RSLC’s mission is to elect more Republicans at the state level, especially state legislators, attorneys general, lieutenant governors and secretaries of state. The RSLC is the largest caucus of Republican state leaders in the country.

November’s election will be the last time voters head to the polls before redistricting takes place. While every state has its own laws for creating congressional districts, the majority political party in each state is usually able to redistrict congressional districts to favor their party.

The math that dictates the strategy: Gillespie said 57 state legislature seats in 12 states will determine 120 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gillespie declined to name specific races that the RSLC will focus on, but said they plan to support candidates with pro-growth agendas.

“We want to do all we can to help support all those candidates,” said Gillespie, who is also a former chairman of the Virginia Republican Party.

In 2010, the country will see 37 gubernatorial races, 30 attorney general races, 11 lieutenant governor races and 26 secretary of state races, he said.

Gillespie said the group will spread out the $22 million the group usually spends on state races per election cycle. He also said he would like to be able to raise enough money to be able to double that amount with his national profile and Republican contacts across the country and take the RSLC “to another level – a higher level.”

Former Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York will also serve as vice chairman of the RSLC.

Gillespie served as counselor to the president during the last 18 months of the Bush administration and led the Supreme Court confirmation efforts of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. After leaving the White House, he formed Ed Gillespie Strategies.