There are 168 members. It takes two-thirds of the membership to remove the chairman, which means no more than 56 members could vote no. As of earlier this evening, 58 members had signed a letter in support of Steele. QED. The letter:
As Republican National Committee Members, we believe Chairman Michael Steele can lead the RNC to be a full partner with us this fall in our efforts to fire Nancy Pelosi and win Republican majorities in Congress and among governors. His record at winning elections has been stellar, his fundraising ability has been solid, and he has honed our Victory programs’ ability to identify and deliver voters for Republican candidates.
The charge of any national Chairman is to raise money and win elections. With over $100 million raised, victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and victories in 29 of 37 special elections, Michael Steele has demonstrated that under his Chairmanship the RNC has the ability, focus, and drive to lead Republicans to a sweeping victory in November.
The RNC under Chairman Michael Steele is a full partner with state committees, responsive to our needs, and intensely interested in providing the support necessary for victory. That process is not an easy process. Technology has had a great impact on the art of politics. That impact has required the RNC to adapt and change to work effectively in this modern environment. Change can sometimes be difficult. But the changes Michael Steele has brought to the RNC were essential for our party to adapt, and win, when we do not, for the moment, hold the White House or Congress.
We stand behind Chairman Steele as he continues to lead us on the path victory in November.
Not a word on spending, naturally enough. The chairman of the Louisiana GOP told Dave Weigel this afternoon that RNC members gathered for the SRLC event in New Orleans want to meet with Steele to discuss their “concerns.” (He’s in town tonight for the conference and is speaking tomorrow.) I take it the message will be the same message Romney gave an interviewer when asked about Steele yesterday: Plain and simple, no more distractions. In fact, ideally, they’d demand that he grant no more interviews for the rest of the year. As strange as it may seem now, one of his big selling points when he started as chairman was that he was seasoned as a pundit from his time on Fox and could be expected to give good soundbite as a spokesman for the party. The party chair really doesn’t need to be a spokesman, though; all he has to do is gladhand wealthy donors and hit on smart gimmicks for the grassroots, like the “Fire Pelosi!” thing. If he lies low through November, raises a bundle, and the party cleans up in the midterms, he can reemerge in December as the “quiet hero” of the Republican revival, which will give him all sorts of media opportunities next year. Deal?
Oh, speaking of cleaning up: How does 50 to 70 seats sound? If you dream it, it can be!