Columbia, South Carolina , United States
|| February 29, 1956
Dec 09, 2008 10:42pm
|Info||Katon Dawson was elected Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party in spring 2002 and unanimously re-elected in 2004 and 2007. The fourth-longest serving State Republican Party chairman in the country, Dawson serves on the Budget Committee of the Republican National Committee. |
Dubbed “a tough-as-nails southern warrior” by Washington Times columnist Donald Lambro, Dawson has turned the South Carolina Republican Party’s financial deficit into a large surplus with aggressive fundraising and sound fiscal management. Dawson has broken all previous fundraising records for a state political party chairman in South Carolina.
Historic electoral success has been the hallmark of Dawson’s tenure at the helm of the South Carolina Republican Party. During the four election cycles Dawson has been State Chairman, Republicans have won nearly 80% of the elections in which they fielded a candidate. Under Dawson’s leadership, the South Carolina Republican Party has gained a U.S. Senate seat, re-taken the governorship, and picked up two statewide constitutional offices. Republicans have also increased the number of seats the party holds in both chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly. Currently, Republicans hold eight out of nine statewide constitutional offices in South Carolina.
Dawson has been recognized nationally for preserving South Carolina’s First-in-the-South Republican Party Presidential Primary status. The South Carolina Republican Party’s First-in-the-South Presidential Primary has grown in significance over time. Since 1980, no candidate has won the Republican nomination for president without winning South Carolina’s Republican primary. In August 2007, Dawson made a historic trip to New Hampshire’s Executive Council Chambers at the State House in Concord. There, at a nationally televised press conference, he hand delivered a letter to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announcing Saturday, January 19, 2008, as the date of the 2008 First-in-the-South Republican Party Presidential Primary.
Dawson has earned extensive coverage by local, statewide, and national press. Dawson was the only State Republican Party Chairman in the country to host two live, nationally-televised FOX News Republican presidential candidates’ debates during the 2008 presidential primary season. Dawson has appeared on FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC News, National Public Radio, and Dan Rather Reports. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, TIME, Newsweek, Washington Times and U.S. News and World Report. Dawson’s guest columns have been published in the Politico, The State, and the Greenville News.
Dawson participated in a “Presidential Primary Symposium” in April 2008 at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was the featured speaker at a North Carolina Republican Party dinner in June 2008. He has also spoken to students at the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Charleston Law School. Dawson served as a panelist discussing presidential politics at the University of Virginia Center For Politics’ 2008 American Democracy Conference hosted by Larry Sabato.
Dawson has been active in Republican Party politics for more than 40 years. On Halloween night 1964, Dawson was just 8 years old when his mother drove him to the downtown auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina, to hear Ronald Reagan stump for Republican presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Dawson was a flag-bearer on that historic evening and was honored to meet Reagan that night. “I remembered I wanted to be part of that excitement from that day forward”' Dawson told the Associated Press in a 2007 interview.
Dawson went on to volunteer for President Richard Nixon and coordinate Students for Gerald Ford at the University of South Carolina. Dawson was member of Young Professionals for Ronald Reagan. Dawson was a regional captain of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Dawson also served as co-Chairman of South Carolina’s delegations to the 2004 and 2008 Republican National Convention and President of the 2004 South Carolina Electoral College.
Dawson is president and general manager of family-owned Burns Auto Parts in Columbia, South Carolina. He is married to Candy. They have two children – Anna and Katon, Jr. Dawson graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1979 with a Bachelors of Science in Management. He is an active member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.