Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will seek a second term.

He made the announcement on a conference call with RNC members Monday night. Members of the committee will decide the chairmanship at next month's meeting.


Many prominent Republicans had questioned how Steele, the party's first African-American chairman, would carry on after an error-prone tenure.

But Steele laid out the case for his reelection, noting the GOP recaptured the House majority and eroded Democratic control of the Senate during his time at the helm.

“We fired [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, so let’s increase our resources and strength to take back the Senate, elect new governors and a principled Republican leader to serve as president of the United States. United, we will make a difference for America’s future,” Steele said, according to his prepared remarks. "We achieved that in part because we adhered to two important principles: consistency and inclusion.

"Going forward, I ask for your support and your vote for a second term. Our work is not done, and my commitment has not ended. I believe the worst thing we can do now is to look backwards."

Steele claiming some credit for the 2010 results has irked many Republicans, who grumbled that the chairman did little to enhance the party's performance. Steele was on a national bus tour for the final stretch of the campaign. And the RNC wasn't able to match its Democratic counterpart in fundraising.

The RNC pulled in $164 million in contributions last cycle, about $30 million less than the Democratic National Committee. The RNC finished the cycle $15 million in debt.

Steele promised to “dramatically increase” the committee’s fundraising for the 2012 cycle, and noted he’d improved the party’s governance.

"Today members of the Republican National Committee govern themselves versus being ruled by a small, cliquish elite,” he said. “Together, we have laid the ground game for — as you’ve heard me say before — ‘turning the elephant,’ and now we must build the framework for winning the White House.”

Steele's two-year tenure was marked by several prominent public errors and scandal. Shortly after being elected in January 2009 he called abortion an "individual choice," and received criticism for spending lavishly on renovations to his office.

Steele's leadership was questioned again after the committee became embroiled in a spending scandal last spring. Its Federal Election Commission report revealed that an RNC contractor spent $2,000 at a bondage club in Los Angeles.

Moreover, Steele's political acumen was questioned in September when he stopped in Colorado for a campaign event with Dan Maes (R), just as the gubernatorial candidate’s prominent supporters were deserting him due to multiple scandals.

Despite the controversy, Steele retained a bloc of support. There were 31 state GOP chairmen who backed him even in the wake of the bondage club spending scandal.

Still, Steele has some work to do to convince the committee membership he deserves a second term.

Utah GOP Chairman Dave Hansen said he remains undecided despite hearing Steele’s pitch. “It’s going to be a tough battle for him, I think,” he said.

The chairmanship election won’t hurt the party, Hansen added. “I am not one to think that contests are bad."

Steele’s announcement comes as the race for the chairmanship had drawn a crowded field.

Two RNC members told Fox News early on Monday that Steele's delay was designed to flush his competitors into an open campaign. And it's worked, in that respect.

The field of candidates has swollen to include Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan GOP; Wisconsin Republican Reince Priebus; Ann Wagner, a former ambassador to Luxembourg and Missouri Republican Party chairwoman; former RNC official Gentry Collins; and Maria Cino, a former Bush administration official who was the latest to announce her run.

Steele won the chairmanship in January 2009 in the sixth round of voting.

— This story was updated at 9:14 p.m.