Matt Lewis notes that the coming Republican debate over the loss to Barack Obama on Tuesday might end up costing RNC chair Reince Priebus his job. Priebus turned around a profoundly derailed fundraising machine and put the GOP in position to battle Democrats this year, but only succeeded at maintaining the House majority. Priebus didn’t help his own cause by issuing triumphal announcements about GOTV efforts before the election that became “a complete and utter embarrassment,” as Matt says, but his success in righting the ship after the Michael Steele term can’t be ignored, either.
It’s a choice between management and leadership, as Matt sees it:
Ultimately, it probably comes down to this: If you believe the RNC post requires a competent administrator, you’re probably still for Priebus. But if you believe that the GOP is in need of a makeover — and that a party absent a de facto leader demands someone with gravitas — then you might want to beg a Jeb Bush or a Haley Barbour to step in.
I have a suggestion that may make more sense, especially if the GOP wants to look to the future. There seems to be broad agreement that we need to get the next generation of Republican leaders engaged as soon as possible, and few if any of them have the talent and skill of Marco Rubio, especially at the kind of communication and outreach he can deliver. If the RNC wants to make a change at the top, they have an opportunity to get a big head start on the kind of transformation needed in the Republican approach.
While Rubio is busy being a Senator, he’s still in the minority, where he will have little ability to make an impact on legislation. Many people think Rubio lacks a track record of executive experience; a two-year term running the RNC will at least give him an immediate opportunity to add significant executive experience to his resumé ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016. It also gives Rubio even more of a platform to drive the Republican message and brand among voters who haven’t been inclined to listen to the GOP. That would give us a chance to see what kind of executive Rubio makes — and enough time to look for other prospects if he doesn’t perform to expectations.
Rubio turned down an opportunity to run the NRSC, but the RNC chair would be better suited to his future anyway. He’s also more a part of the GOP’s future than Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour. This could be a big opportunity to immediately work on the apparent weaknesses of the GOP, rather than fall back to the establishment of the present and the past.