He loves riding his big Harley motorcycle and dropped out of the U of M Dearborn just short of a degree. His wife, Lina is also Lithuanian, and the parents gave their four sons Lithuanian names - Tadas, Vytis, Matas and Marius, and encourage them to speak the language whenever they are all in their Lansing-area home.
But what makes Anuzis especially remarkable is that the fundamental commitment in his life is to the Republican Party, after his family and the Roman Catholic Church. For four years, in fact, Anuzis was Michigan’s Mr. Republican, state party chair.
And now, he’s making a major effort to get the top job in Washington. Last week, he announced he was running for Republican National Chairman, a post now held by the controversial Michael Steele, a man best known for tripping over his tongue.
Anuzis, who makes his living from his telecommunications business, Coast to Coast Strategies, was a candidate for the top GOP job two years ago, but narrowly lost out to Steele.
And ever since, it has often seemed that the only question was whether Steele would even be allowed to serve out his term.
He began his tenure by fighting with Rush Limbaugh, appeared to take a pro-choice stand he had to retract, and then went on to say that Afghanistan was a “war of Obama’s choosing,” when it was really begun by President George W. Bush.
There was even a scandal when the Republican National Committee paid for some people to spend an evening at a “bondage-themed” topless nightclub. But while Steele hasn’t yet said whether he is a candidate for re-election this January, something may have given him a new lease on life: this month’s midterm elections.
Republicans won a tremendous landslide, and did it on his watch. Saul Anuzis, on the other hand, presided over four of the worst years in modern history for the Michigan GOP.
Yet there is reason to think that Anuzis might be just what his party needs, if it is going to take back the Senate and White House next year. Anuzis is far better at cultivating the media than Steele.
But Saul is not really interested in being the story himself. He is a tremendously tech-savvy guy who is also superb at crafting campaign strategies and raising money. “The chairman‘s job is to get our candidates to the ten-yard-line so they can score,” he said.
Running for office doesn’t appeal to him. Coaching, however, does. Though his Republicans did abysmally in Michigan during his time in office, they did poorly just about everywhere then. In fact, the case can be made that Anuzis’s adroit maneuvering was what allowed the GOP to keep narrow control of the Michigan Senate four years ago.
I have no idea whether Anuzis will win the top spot when the Republican National Committee convenes January 12. There may be a flock of other candidates by then. But I do know this.
If he does win, it’s unlikely to be good news for the Democrats.