Steele to drop out?

posted at 8:48 am on December 13, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The troubled stewardship of the RNC appears to be heading to a close.  According to Politico’s sources within the Republican Party, Michael Steele will announce his withdrawal from the upcoming election of chair, ending his bid for a second term after a controversial two-year run:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele intends to announce his reelection plans on Monday evening, and key supporters expect him to drop out of the hotly contested race, top Republicans tell POLITICO.

A new chairman will be elected next month during the committee’s winter meeting.

Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, has built no known reelection team or structure, making the prospect of a campaign unlikely in the face of competition that grows fiercer by the day. But allies said Steele has not revealed his plans, and the chairman has been nothing if not unpredictable.

Republicans reaped heavy publicity in January 2009 when they chose Steele as the party’s first African-American chairman, but he has proven to be a poor fundraiser and gaffe-prone messenger.

Why do they assume that Steele is backing out?  He invited all of the committee members to join him on a private conference call tonight.  Had Steele wanted to make a case for his re-election, these sources tell Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin, Steele would have called them individually to pitch another term.  At this point, there’s nothing else to discuss, and so it appears that Steele wants to announce his withdrawal to everyone at once.

Allen and Martin cover the problem succinctly in that fourth paragraph.  The wheels came off of the RNC in 2009-10, and the GOP simply cannot afford a repeat in the presidential election cycle of 2012.  When Steele used his star power to win election to his first term, even some of his supporters understood that Steele didn’t have a track record for organization and fundraising.  It was his media savvy that Republicans wanted, which is why the series of gaffes stunned and angered the GOP over the past two years.

However, the fundraising problem is just as much the fault of the RNC as it is its chair’s.  The central committee should have insisted on a business manager position to handle the organizing while Steele handled the media outreach.  It took far too long to discover that the organizing and fundraising wasn’t being done at all.  While Steele will undoubtedly take some credit for the historic win in the House in the midterms, the RNC was essentially irrelevant, deep in debt and no GOTV efforts in the home stretch.  If third-party groups hadn’t ridden to the rescue, Nancy Pelosi might still be speaker — and if the RNC had organized properly, the GOP might have picked up a few more seats in the House.

The next RNC chair should have a solid track record on organization and fundraising, and probably debt retirement, too.  We can find other people to handle media relations; as the RNC discovered, neither is particularly easy, but it’s more critical to organize than to appear on Fox News Sunday.  And in the next two years, the RNC has to build in some accountability to make sure that the committee can discover quickly when things start going wrong, rather than finding out when it’s too late to fix in an upcoming election.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I hereby nominate Gov. Chris Christie as the new Republican National Committee Chairman!

You think the Democrats are upset with the way things are right now?

Get Christie in the Chairmanship and you’ll see the Democrats go charging over the cliffs like lemmings on speed!

pilamaye on December 13, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Steele should drop out. He was ineffective. No real leadership at all. We need a tea party conservative.

jbh45 on December 13, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Republicans reaped heavy publicity in January 2009 when they chose Steele as the party’s first African-American chairman, but he has proven to be a poor fundraiser and gaffe-prone messenger.

Good riddance to bad trash! Don’t care why he goes so long as he does. To this day I still think this guy was a plant. He couldn’t have been that incompetent (gaffe prone in the article) by accident. It was on purpose. Have no doubt that he has a hotline to the White House and he probably voted for Obama. One question: Why is his non-american heritage all ways mentioned so prominently in articles about him?

Tommy_G on December 13, 2010 at 8:57 AM

I had high hopes for him. It was disappointing to see him perform so poorly. Yes, it is time to try someone else.

backwoods conservative on December 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Mitt Romney’s the guy for the job. A money maker and well-connected with the powers that be.

ddrintn on December 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM

What up?

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Gee, electing someone based on skin color seems to have failed the American people twice. The stupidity of racism.

Hening on December 13, 2010 at 9:12 AM

(Salmon swimming up stream here, but…)
I like Steele and think he’s done better than Cornyn did at the NRSC, by joining forces with the Tea Party and Sarah Palin to get conservative Republicans on the ballot and many, elected.

We had a record number of black (conservative) Republican candidates in this election and Steele gets credit for that, too.
Quit yer b*tchin’.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Isn’t it true that more folks than usual sent money directly to campaigns instead of the RNC, NRCC, etc.? Wouldn’t that account for the RNCs poor fundraising numbers?

Look–when I go into the voting booth, that last think I care about is who the RNC chair is. I’ve been following politics for over three decades, and Steele is the only RNC chair I can name. Elect Super Chicken or Dudley Doright to the RNC, then let’s get on with the important things.

pugwriter on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM

I’ve been following politics for over three decades, and Steele is the only RNC chair I can name.

Exactly. The RNC is about $$$, then $$$ and, following that, $$$. If the R party is lacking in spokespersons for talk show pitches, it will be the first political party in history to have encountered that problem.

What matters is the ass end of the elephant, where he carries his wallet. Get after it.

IndieDogg on December 13, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Aw come on, if you take away his pigmentation, he qualifies as mediocre at best. It was a weakness of the GOP that they had to join up with the worst games of the left in playing the special interest card.

What’s good for the nation is what’s good for all of its people. That is the only message that can counter the left’s dividing to conquer. But, that must be taught, exclaimeds, preached and propagandized boldy. Dividing ourselves – doing the same wrong as they do, to fight back, is idiotic.

Don L on December 13, 2010 at 9:28 AM

I’ve been following politics for over three decades, and Steele is the only RNC chair I can name.

That’s the point. The rest haven’t been “gaffe prone” egotistical fools who want too see their faces on TV and be one of the “cool kids”. Ed is right however, it was the RNC and the RINO’s that ruined the fund raising. Steele just added to the hilarity of seeing the GOP look like idiots, time after time.

flytier on December 13, 2010 at 9:28 AM

We had a record number of black (conservative) Republican candidates in this election and Steele gets credit for that, too.
Quit yer b*tchin’.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Allen West is no Michael Steele. The Col. got there all by himself, and not for being black. Unlike Steele.

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

I doubt this is not going to pave the way for a more conservative, Tea Party-type candidate. Steele, with all of his warts, was as close as we’re ever going to get to that. The Establishment wants one of their own in there so they can control all of the purse strings – such that they are – and by extension, the 2012 elections. Somebody like. . .

Mitt Romney’s the guy for the job. A money maker and well-connected with the powers that be.

ddrintn on December 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM

^^ . . .this guy. It’s a perfect job for ol’ moneybags.

NoLeftTurn on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

I think some of the incompetence was deliberate, but for a good reason: If the GOP looked like it couldn’t conspire its way to get laid in a brothel, all the free-floating accusations against Republicans and conservatives in the wake of the Bush years have nowhere to go but Kookooland.

The American people voted for a candidate endorsed in part by people who believe that George W Bush murdered 3000 American citizens, faked evidence against that poor noble savage Saddam Hussein, personally rigged electronic voting machines across the country, and ran the country at the behest of Halliburton. It’s insane, but the 2008 vote showed enough people were primed to believe the worst about conservatives and Republicans. The Dems were counting on the smears to stick on through to 2012 and beyond. So how does one shed the image of the omnipotent conspirator? By making the public wonder if they could conspire to order pizza. That IMHO has been Steele’s strategery, and a brilliant one. However, it’s hard to play at incompetence without appearing incompetent.

Sekhmet on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

I doubt this is not going to pave the way for a more conservative, Tea Party-type candidate.

FIFM. Time for some coffee!

NoLeftTurn on December 13, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Steele’s tenure was almost as annoying as “interactive” web ads running audio/video clips even when you don’t click on them. Almost but not quite.

andycanuck on December 13, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Elect Super Chicken or Dudley Doright to the RNC, then let’s get on with the important things.

pugwriter on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM

D**m you!! I’ll have that theme song running through my head all day!

TugboatPhil on December 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Run, Sarah, Run!

Al-Ozarka on December 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Allen West is no Michael Steele. The Col. got there all by himself, and not for being black. Unlike Steele.

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

I’m not sure where you’re going with logic on either side of that statement…
Steele and West both stand out because they’re conservative black Republicans.
As did Tim Scott in SC.
We now have 2 black Republicans going to Congress when we haven’t had one since 1993 when J.C. Watts left.
And around 34 black Republicans ran for Congress this fall.
Impressive.
Until we have more blacks break the color barrier in the party, this will continue to be the case.
Someday (soon), it will be no big deal.
2 black Democrats in Georgia jumped the party to go GOP just this past week.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Gads, has it only been two years?!? I guess pain makes it feel longer.

Mr Michael on December 13, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Steele will anounce he is not running for re-electino and then switch to the democrat party saying something about republicans being bigots.

bopbottle on December 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM

I can name a couple of former RNC chairmen; Ed Gillespie and Haley Barbour. Admirable, effective chairmen.

bopbottle on December 13, 2010 at 9:38 AM

I think the problem of chair is deeper.

To get money, you need relationships. Most of those relationships and money belong to old school Republicans – which is generally counter to the new energy and non-graft orientation of the Tea Party movement.

If you get someone who chases money, they won’t be able to much embrace the Tea Party crowd.

If you get someone who embraces the Tea Party movement, the money will be harder to get.

Since the former is more important to the position of chair than the latter, you’ll likely get that, and by so doing, make it harder for the Tea Party folks to get real excited about whoever is in the chair, who is, by default, a spokesperson for the Republicans.

Tough duty…

beatcanvas on December 13, 2010 at 9:40 AM

“The next RNC chair should have a solid track record on organization and fundraising, and probably debt retirement, too.

..probably a good trait to have for a party that supposedly espouses conservative principles.

The War Planner on December 13, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Steele will anounce [sic] he is not running for re-electino [sic] and then switch to the democrat party saying something about republicans being bigots.

bopbottle on December 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM

..that’s a little harsh, isn’t it? I mean the guy wasn’t exactly competent in the job, but he was by no means a looney-tunes.

The War Planner on December 13, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Allen West is no Michael Steele. The Col. Lieutenant Colonel got there all by himself, and not for being black. Unlike Steele.

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

..FIFY.

The War Planner on December 13, 2010 at 9:52 AM

Good. Follow the Sarah Palin model and if it is just a good living you’re looking for, surely your contacts in the GOP will have provided you with world-class opportunities to be financially successful.

Next.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Allen West is no Michael Steele.

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Good grief, what do you people have against experience and hard work?! Rubio and West, Kristi Noem, and Sarah Palin … is the 2010 version of “conservative” modeled after Our Idiot President, Mr. Know-Nothing Mannequin?

Let Allen West actually get seated in the House before you try to promote him to some national leadership position, for the love of Pete.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Mitt Romney’s the guy for the job. A money maker and well-connected with the powers that be.

ddrintn on December 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Absolutely great suggestion. Hardest Hit: Mitt for President movement.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM

I’ve been following politics for over three decades, and Steele is the only RNC chair I can name.

I know Paul Farenkompf(s?) from Reagan /Bush years and Haley Barbour from GW’s years.

Steele was great at getting media attention and horrible at everything else. RNC chair isnt suppose to be a media darling because the MSM will have a bullseye on their backs.

The main key problem with the RNC is that it is too Washington insider. Too many cronies and people with the “Right” connections. It is basically a GOP re election fund that backs the Washington establishment. Its RINO central which is why it has done so poorly at fundraising.

The solution is a Washington outsider who knows how to win elections. Unfortunately I believe Steele while he was clueless has been pushed from this job by the insiders who are upset at the Tea Party getting rid of washington establishment types.

I think we will see a total cronie selected this time. The powers that be feel threatened by the Tea party and want to keep control in Washington.

William Amos on December 13, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Tough duty…

beatcanvas on December 13, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Excellent analysis!
Let’s not forget, there was no Tea Party when Steele was elected to Chair in January 2009.
Rick Santelli didn’t rant until February.

Steele showed flexibility, creativity and smarts to go with the Tea Party flow…where the emphasis became giving to individual candidates rather than the party.
Steele “got it” long before the other GOP elites.
And folks like Karl Rove and the Bushes still don’t get it.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 10:04 AM

To get money, you need relationships. Most of those relationships and money belong to old school Republicans – which is generally counter to the new energy and non-graft orientation of the Tea Party movement.

Yep.

If you get someone who chases money, they won’t be able to much embrace the Tea Party crowd.

If you get someone who embraces the Tea Party movement, the money will be harder to get.

This!

Since the former is more important to the position of chair than the latter, you’ll likely get that, and by so doing, make it harder for the Tea Party folks to get real excited about whoever is in the chair, who is, by default, a spokesperson for the Republicans.

Tough duty…

beatcanvas on December 13, 2010 at 9:40 AM

A sampling of the inner split that’s coming.

a capella on December 13, 2010 at 10:08 AM

I think we will see a total cronie selected this time. The powers that be feel threatened by the Tea party and want to keep control in Washington.

William Amos on December 13, 2010 at 10:04 AM

You are right, my friend. And it might as well be Mittens.

kingsjester on December 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM

It’s hard enough to find estimable politicians when you select from a large pool…. What do expect when the choices are limited to black Republican stand-up comics?

Seth Halpern on December 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Steele was an excellent Lieutenant Governor of Maryland under Bob Ehrlich. Period.

Everything past that… Not so much.

Jack Deth on December 13, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Michael Steele to quit GOP, rejoin Bangles

playblu on December 13, 2010 at 10:12 AM

And yet, Cornyn is set to remain as head of the NRSC.

changer1701 on December 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Let Allen West actually get seated in the House before you try to promote him to some national leadership position, for the love of Pete.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 9:59 AM

I’m not sure where you’re going with logic on either side of that statement…

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Just in PR alone, Allen West is a star. He’s coherent, a leader, and doesn’t mince words. How he acts will be seen. But on his words alone (comparing oranges and oranges) he’s no Michael Steele.

I’m not promoting him to some nat’l leadership position, for the love of Pete. You are saying that Michael Steele is the reason he is in office. I’m saying he won because people love what he says and stands for and his track record. You know…”the content of his character.”

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 10:20 AM

You are saying that Michael Steele is the reason he is in office.

No, that’s not what I said.

I’m saying he won because people love what he says and stands for and his track record. You know…”the content of his character.”

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I supported West’s campaign from TX.
I quite agree.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Nothing to do with being black. I would have Alfonzo Rachel running the RNC rather than Steele. Steele just doesn’t have the “it” factor.

Hummer53 on December 13, 2010 at 10:42 AM

1. He seems like a nice man who loves his country
2. I wanted Ken Blackwell
3. If the RNC wants donors again it should either stay out of primaries or not support the dem lite/rino in said primary
4. We really need a GOTV plan for 2012

Branch Rickey on December 13, 2010 at 10:46 AM

We had a record number of black (conservative) Republican candidates in this election and Steele gets credit for that, too.
Quit yer b*tchin’.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Jen, it’s what we come here to do. Don’t try and take away our fun.

silvernana on December 13, 2010 at 11:02 AM

I hereby nominate Gov. Chris Christie as the new Republican National Committee Chairman!

You think the Democrats are upset with the way things are right now?

Get Christie in the Chairmanship and you’ll see the Democrats go charging over the cliffs like lemmings on speed!

pilamaye on December 13, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Christie would be effective, but how many jobs can he do at once? Christie is an excellent spokesman where he is, as Governor of NJ. Also, it wouldn’t look good for him to be raising money while trying to cut teacher salaries in NJ.

As much as some of us like Allen West, maybe he (and the other freshman Rep’s-elect) should get some experience in Congress before trying to lead the entire Republican party.

The RNC chair needs to be somebody with a message and able to raise money, preferably somebody NOT currently in office, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, and somebody who is NOT running for President in 2012. Romney can certainly raise money, but does his message connect with people while Tea Partiers are railing against ObamaCare, and Romney put his mini-ObamaCare in place in MA? Sarah Palin definitely has a message, but some of the candidates she endorsed (Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Joe Miller) lost badly.

This suggestion might sound off-the-wall, but how about Dick Morris? As a former advisor to Bill Clinton, he knows how the “other side” (dark side?) works, and how to counteract their message, and probably knows who has money willing to donate to conservative causes. The only problem–could the RNC offer him enough money to persuade him to give up his other lucrative activities?

Steve Z on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

He cannot leave fast enough for me.

Hilts on December 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Shame the RNC can’t afford to throw Steele a going away party, but its his fault they are $20 million in debt.

Raisedbywolves on December 13, 2010 at 11:31 AM

The only problem–could the RNC offer him enough money to persuade him to give up his other lucrative activities?

Steve Z on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

No.
Dick Morris is crazy and is obsessed with the Clintons.
I’ve never been convinced that he’s so much joined the Republicans as he has been spurned by the Clinton Democrats.
Do. Not. Want.

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Jen, it’s what we come here to do. Don’t try and take away our fun.

silvernana on December 13, 2010 at 11:02 AM

LOL!
Too true, me included!
(Especially on a Monday morning and when Congress threatens to hold another God-awful vote on Christmas Eve!)

Jenfidel on December 13, 2010 at 11:33 AM

I hope he does choose not to run, for the good of the party. As to who’s next- Romney is a great suggestion IMO. Maybe a rerun by Barbour, but I also think Saul Anuzis is running and may be a good fit.

If Steele does run, it could get pretty ugly.

cs89 on December 13, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Wonder what the real reason is:
• Misappropriation of funds?
• Caught scr**ing his admin?
• Actually is a registered Democrat?
• All of the above?

I think I would vote to leave him in place. Leave well enough alone for now going into 2012. Having him out there talking s**t against Republicans could be worse than we imagine.

Western_Civ on December 13, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Finally!!

He should have dropped out a long, long, long, time ago.

Conservative Samizdat on December 13, 2010 at 12:20 PM

They didn’t want Ken Blackwell, and he would’ve been a far far better man than Steele. The Elites wanted a “moderate” rather than a Conservative. Well, they got the “moderate” they wanted, and the RNC went south. Good going, Elites!

SilentWatcher on December 13, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Jeb Bush for RNC Chairman.

No divisive primary.

Liberal media attacks mitigated.

Independents like Charlie Crist will return to GOP.

Behold …. your Republican Nominee is ROMNEY!

A no-contest win, right?

Just ask all the mind-boggling pollsters like Pweh Pweh Pweh! I mean … PPP.

BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

[Even if we lose with Romney, we will surely be called the Grand Old Party of Greatness, Intellectualism ... and Elitism ... how cozy, right, right? No?]

Thus, Jeb Bush for RNC Chairman!

TheAlamos on December 13, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Allen West is no Michael Steele. The Col. got there all by himself, and not for being black. Unlike Steele.

hoosiermama on December 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

FWIW, I agree completely with you here. I believe Steele was a purely racial identity choice for the RNC. He had been unusually high profile as a candidate for Maryland Senator, and when he lost — overwhelming evidence that Maryland Democrats are all racists, right? — they wanted to find a high profile GOP position for him to make a push for black voters.

West is self-made and while he makes a marquis face for the GOP, that’s not why he was elected to the House. GOP voters are much less racial in their voting than Demonrats, imo.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM

I believe Steele was a purely racial identity choice for the RNC.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Gotta disagree strongly. As someone who supported Michael Steele for the job, part of my reason for doing so is that he did several things to “reach out” to us in the cheap seats during his campaign to be chairman. He ran very much a “one of us” message.

No one else did. So I danced with someone who indicated a willingness to dance with me.

I’m tired of skin color discussions, and assertions that it makes a difference. While some voted for Obama for those reasons, skin color matters far less to those of us on the right.

beatcanvas on December 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Norm Coleman interested, see Headlines. I expect that once Steele makes it final, many good candidates may emerge that we haven’t thought of.

slickwillie2001 on December 13, 2010 at 3:54 PM

he did several things to “reach out” to us in the cheap seats

beatcanvas

It’s hard to argue this point, since I have no idea what you mean. How did he “reach out” to you and why was this position about you in the first place?

This position couldn’t possibly be less “about me”. It is about fundraising and attracting quality candidates for the party, but mostly fundraising. He failed miserably at this and somehow ended up being controversial personally in a role that is supposed to be utterly invisible.

PS Fox is reporting that Steele is running again. What a shame.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 4:31 PM

I’m tired of skin color discussions, and assertions that it makes a difference.

I believe I asserted that I couldn’t care less about color. That Steele was hired for one reason — his color — seems indisputable to me, since he is profoundly ill-suited to the position on any other level.

While some voted for Obama for those reasons, skin color matters far less to those of us on the right.

I believe I noted my agreement here as well.

Jaibones on December 13, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Drudge has an article in red up that he is indeed running. Several on that thread made what may be a great point about Steele. Because of his ineptness, the Tea Party was able to gain all those seats. If the RINO’S or Bush people get back in control, they may not be so successful because they will push their own people(RINO’S).

silvernana on December 13, 2010 at 4:56 PM

It’s not that unusual for a party chairman to drop out after an election cycle.

roux on December 13, 2010 at 5:27 PM