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Pennsylvania GOP chief eyes run for national party chair

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Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason is reaching out to members of the Republican National Committee and top GOP operatives in advance of a possible bid for national party chairman, a source close to Gleason told Politico.

Gleason of Johnstown has talked to a handful of RNC insiders, including former New Jersey committeeman David Norcross, about a potential run and is touting huge Republican election gains in Pennsylvania as a chief selling point. Gleason has headed the state party since 2006.

"We had more Democratic takeaways than any other state in the country," said the Gleason confidant. "Gleason's proved his worth at taking a blue state and turning it red."

The Pennsylvania chairman also has spoken about a potential run to Karl Rove, who along with fellow former George W. Bush political hand Ed Gillespie is looking for a challenger to sitting RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

The source declined to say who else on the committee Gleason has spoken to about an RNC run, saying only that "he's pitched some bigger-name folks."

"Obviously there is a lot of movement right now," the source said.

When asked about a potential run, Gleason declined to comment.

He is one of about a dozen Republican insiders said to be considering campaigns, according to committee sources.

Gleason grew up in politics under the tutelage of his father, Robert A. Sr., who was Cambria County's GOP chairman for nearly 50 years before stepping down in 1996, when the son became head of the county party.

"I've lost, and I've won," Gleason said. "It's better to win."

Other RNC insiders whose names have been floated for chairman include former Michigan Chairman Saul Anuzis, Connecticut Chairman Chris Healy, Wisconsin Chairman Reince Priebus, former North Dakota Chairman Gary Emineth, California Chairman Ron Nehring, District of Columbia Committeeman Tony Parker, Texas Committeeman Bill Crocker, former RNC Deputy Chairwoman Maria Cino, RNC Co-Chairwoman Jan Larimer and former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan.

Several others, including Norcross, have received mention as potential challengers to Steele.

Three outsiders also are receiving attention from the 168-member committee: former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

Gleason supported former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson during the January 2009 RNC election, which Steele won on the sixth ballot.

Steele has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election in the contest, slated for early next year.

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