US Republicans oust first black leader
Washington: The first-ever African-American leader of the US Republican party quit the race for a new term of the chairmanship as the party shifted in preparation for the 2012 presidential race.
Michael Steele had been elected in 2009 after Republicans were routed in the 2008 elections by Barack Obama's Democrats.
Wisconsin Republican chairman Reince Priebus was elected in the seventh round of voting after Steele pulled out.
Steele, who had made several gaffes during his tenure, told party members that the party -- also known as the GOP, or Grand Old Party -- "is ready for something different”.
"At this time I will step aside for others to lead. But in so doing I hope you all appreciate the legacy we leave," an emotional Steele said as he addressed party members.
Priebus helped Wisconsin Republicans win back the governor's office after eight years and unseat Democratic senator Russ Feingold as well as pick up seats in the House of Representatives.
Steele last year described of the conflict in Afghanistan as "a war of Obama's choosing”, shocking many, and suggested last winter that Republicans would not succeed in taking over the House.
Steele's chief of staff and another aide were dismissed after nearly USD 2,000 in party money was spent at a sex-themed West Hollywood nightclub.