Updated at: 01/25/2013 1:07 PM
By STEVE PEOPLES
(AP) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Reince Priebus has been elected to lead the Republican National Committee for another two years.
The 40-year-old RNC chairman ran unopposed in his bid for a second term, which begins less than three months after what most Republicans consider a disastrous election cycle. The GOP in November lost a competitive presidential election and gave up seats in the House and Senate.
"The task before us is transforming the party _ to be a force from coast to coast," Priebus said Friday in his acceptance speech in Charlotte, N.C., where Republican National Committee members from across the country gathered this week for the GOP’s annual winter meeting.
Maine national committeeman Mark Willis tried to challenge Priebus but could not muster the backing of three states needed to qualify for the ballot. All but two of the Republican National Committee’s 168 members _ both from Maine _ voted to reelect the chairman.
Despite the party’s struggles last fall, Priebus was widely praised for improving the RNC’s financial problems. In his acceptance speech, he called for sweeping changes in the GOP over the coming years, particularly the need to connect with the minority voters that helped propel President Barack Obama to a second term.
"We want to be Republicans for everybody," Priebus said. "We have to take our message of opportunity where it’s not being heard. We have to build better relationships in minority communities, urban centers and college towns. We need a permanent growing presence."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)