Gov. Mitch Daniels announced his support for his deputy chief of staff to fill the vacated position of Indiana Republican Party chairman.

Daniels' endorsement prompted Madison resident Kevin Kellems to withdraw his name from consideration for the job.

Tuesday, Daniels sent a letter of support for Eric Holcomb, who has worked with the governor since 2003. While Daniels does not make the final decision on who will serve as the state Republican chairman, he does have some influence as the top elected Republican in state office.

"Since 2003, I have worked with Eric to grow our party, establish our vision for the future and enact our shared policies and priorities," Daniels wrote in his letter to the Republican state committee.

"As a leader in each of my campaigns, Eric has established his credentials as a coalition builder who can raise money, devise strategy, communicate a positive vision and win elections," Daniels wrote.

Kellems has thrown his support behind Holcomb. "I have been lobbying Eric Holcomb for months to consider becoming the next chairman of the Indiana GOP, so I am extremely pleased that the governor has recommended him for the job, because Eric will be a tremendous asset," Kellems said in an e-mail to The Madison Courier.

"Eric's chairmanship also will be a bonus for those of us from Jefferson County - because Eric is a proud Hanover grad who has been a regular visitor to Madison for more than two decades, including in recent years at my invitation."

Holcomb graduated from Hanover College in 1990 and was Daniels' campaign manager for his re-election in 2008.

"Our new status as a governing party means we must be vigorous in promoting our ideas and we must continue to reach out to those unfamiliar with our cause," Daniels said in his letter.

"No one is more qualified to lead this vital effort. We don't have a single day to waste in implementing our bold reform agenda or in beginning the critical work for the 2011 elections and beyond. I encourage you to ratify Eric Holcomb as our next chairman without delay."

After Murray Clark resigned, former GOP chairman Jim Kittle had been considered the front-runner to succeed Clark, but he backed out of the nomination after he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.

The state Republican Central Committee will meet Jan. 3 to elect a new state chairman.