After the first ballot, Mr. Duncan, the incumbent, led the field with 52 votes, but lacking a majority of the 168 voting committee members, additional ballots were held until a candidate won a majority. Steele won with 91 votes. Many members felt that a Duncan reelection would have sent a signal of party stagnation, especially given that the party’s two leaders in Congress, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, were both reelected to their leadership posts.
Steele made history in 2000 when he was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Maryland, the first African American to win a GOP state chairmanship.
In 2002, he was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland, making him the first African American elected to statewide office in his state. In 2004, Steele delivered the keynote address at the Republican convention, seen as a counter to then-Senate candidate Obama’s star turn as the Democrats’ keynoter. And in 2006, Steele was his party’s nominee for an open Senate seat, losing to Rep. Ben Cardin (D) by a margin of 55 to 44 percent. In 2007, Steele became chairman of GOPAC, a political action committee that trains and funds Republican candidates around the country. Steele is also a partner in the Washington law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.