Ken Blackwell for RNC Chairman

The Republican Party's vitality as we enter 2009 is attested by six strong candidates vying to be chairman. Ken Blackwell of Ohio, a longtime personal friend and ally, is my pick for the choice that will be made by 168 members of the Republican National Committee at the end of January. Blackwell is a time-tested Reagan-Kemp conservative and a natural leader.

As Ohio Secretary of State, his tough supervision helped an honest process for the 2004 election that saw President Bush gain the decisive electoral votes for reelection.

With better timing, Ken might have been Governor of Ohio today; he stormed to the 2006 nomination but lost in the Democrat tide that November.

That he also happens to be African-American is not a big deal, but it doesn't hurt. Nor does the fact that his wife is a reform-minded inner city school superintendent in Cincinnati.

His bid for the RNC chairmanship is detailed at

Early last month, Politico had a full rundown on the six contenders.

This week, The Hill updated the race, including a note that Blackwell has picked up the endorsement of Mark Hillman, Republican national committeeman for Colorado.