ANOTHER SETBACK FOR GOP MINORITY OUTREACH…. Over the weekend, Sophia Nelson, a former congressional staffer and a black Republican, had an op-ed piece lamenting the fact that her party seems wholly disinterested in minority outreach. She acknowledged how difficult it can be to support a party that ignores minority communities altogether.

I thought of Nelson’s piece when I saw Greg Sargent’s report on Katon Dawson, a leading candidate for the chairmanship of the RNC.

Now here’s a good way for the GOP to make the case that it hasn’t been reduced to a southern regional rump party that’s held hostage by intolerant crackpots: Elect as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee a southerner who just resigned a longtime membership in a whites-only country club.

Katon Dawson, the South Carolina GOP chairman, announced his candidacy for RNC chair yesterday.

And guess what: Back in September, when Dawson was first quietly laying the groundwork for his RNC run, The State newspaper reported that he resigned his membership in the nearly 80-year-old Forest Lake Club. Members told the newspaper at the time that the club’s deed has a whites-only restriction and has no black members.

Dawson, upon his recent resignation, said he’d been working to change the club’s policy. Given that he was a member for 12 years, he either wasn’t working very hard or he wasn’t especially effective in his arguments. Whatever the case, Dawson must have been pretty embarrassed, because as soon as his membership was poised to become public, he quickly distanced himself from the country club.

The symbolism in 2009 would be pretty powerful wouldn’t it? We could have as chairman of the RNC a former member of a country club that would exclude the president of the United States.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.