Steele is all but done at the RNC
Michael Steel continues to make his case for re-election as chairman of the Republican National Committee, claiming that he revived the organization, despite a bleak outlook on his prospects:
Throughout the 2009-2010 cycle, the Republican National Committee has been singularly focused on winning. By every key measure—fundraising, turnout, and election results—our party was hugely successful. And we were successful because we listened to our grass roots, harnessed their energy and, most of all, affirmed their common-sense conservative ideals. We espoused governing principles that protect freedom and prosperity through free markets and limited government—the polar opposite of our Democrat opponents. In the process, we revived an RNC organization that had failed to compete effectively with the Democrats in 2006 and 2008. Falling back into that dispirited and ineffective state is not an option.
Inexplicably, over much of the last decade, our party simply gave up competing for votes in vast regions of the country, and among huge blocks of voters. That failed strategy was worse than an insult to those disenfranchised voters—it was a blunder. The predictable result was political disaster. Even worse, the Republican Party’s political malpractice afflicted the American people with Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and their job-killing agenda and crippling debt.
We began reversing that trend in 2009 with victories in Virginia and New Jersey that continued into 2010 with more victories in Massachusetts and Hawaii. But that was just the beginning. Through innovation (and yes, a little risk-taking) we demonstrated the broad, long-term viability of the emerging Republican governing majority by picking up 63 House seats, the biggest midterm gain since 1938, six U.S. Senate seats, 12 governorships and the greatest share of state legislative seats since 1928. Our renaissance was underway.
Over the next two years, the RNC must continue to build a majority party by reaching out to allies and other conservative-minded and politically active constituencies wherever they may be. Taking none for granted and writing none off, we must become an inclusive and diverse party that truly reflects the makeup of our nation, both demographically and politically.
Moreover, we must continue to build our record grass-roots fundraising base, while reviving our major donor programs. Recognizing that many of the RNC’s past major donors are no longer politically active, or followed past party leaders to 527s which are not bound by the donation limits and disclosure requirements which apply to the RNC, we began an aggressive effort to cultivate new major donors to sustain us not just today, but in coming decades.
My tenure as chairman has been characterized by outspokenness and a willingness to engage in the political debate as a force for conservative principles. As a result, Washington often fretted, but the grass roots understood. And, on Election Day, voters insisted that their own voices be heard. Make no mistake: 2010 was a comprehensive, bottom-up victory by a party written off one year ago as an “endangered species.”
Unfortunately for Steele, his case is falling on deaf ears as a majority of RNC members have publicly stated that they will not support him for another term. However, the most recent whip count shows that most members are still undecided, and Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus holding the lead.
The four candidates (Saul Anuzis, Maria Cino, Reince Priebus and Ann Wagner) gunning for Steele’s job faced off against him yesterday in a debate sponsored by the Daily Caller, Americans for Tax Reform and the Susan B. Anthony List to discuss issues facing the RNC; including the organizations financial issues.
By most accounts, the debate was uninteresting, the candidates discussed policy issues that have no bearing on this race since the RNC is not involved in policymaking. Over at the American Spectator, John Tabin shares his thoughts:
Steele is a dead man walking; many in the room thought he exceeded expectations, but it isn’t going to matter. Reince Priebus, the frontrunner in terms of endorsements, wasn’t impressive at all; he hewed to talking points about keeping the GOP conservative (fairly irrelevant given that the RNC Chair plays almost no role in setting a policy agenda). Maria Cino did the best job of sticking to a set of talking points relevant to the race — as Reid Wilson noted, she brought up the importance of state parties in nearly every answer, telegraphing her fealty to influential state party leaders — but she stumbled when asked about her background as a lobbyist for Pfizer (she denied lobbying for Obamacare, but not all that convincingly). Ann Wagner was personable but seemed a little short on details about what she’d do at the RNC. Saul Anuzis was a little better on that score but not terribly exciting.
A Republican consultant I chatted with after the debate (not an RNC member) suggested the race is likely to come down to either Priebus vs. Wagner or Priebus vs. Anuzis. That seems like a fair prediction. But the stakes now seem much lower; Steele’s gaffe-prone performance over the past two years has no doubt taught everyone who wants the job that the RNC does better with a low-key fundraiser who keeps his or her head down.
Even among individuals that are members of the RNC, the consensus seems to be that Steele has got to go. But based on the candidates, there doesn’t seem to be anything to get excited about. I guess Steele is that bad.