During the mini-campaign for the RNC chair since the disastrous national election (for Republicans, anyway), we heard rumblings that the most famous of the candidates might not get much institutional support. According to Ben Smith, the feeling was mutual. Michael Steele, fresh off of his fourth-ballot victory, wants to put his own imprint on the party — and has requested the resignations of the entire RNC staff as a start:
A Republican source says newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has requested the resignations of the entire RNC staff and signaled a dramatic turnover at the party organization.
Some aides may be retained, though Republicans are under the impression that Steele will lead a large-scale changeover in the institution, which has about 100 staffers. Obama’s new team at the Democratic National Committee also requested mass resignations.
Many, including communications staffers, have been told their last day is Feb. 15.
Steele has a difficult task ahead of him, which is to convince voters that the GOP has changed and learned from two successive electoral defeats. His election may give evidence to that, but until Steele shows some strength and — dare I say — change, that election will just look cosmetic. In order to build on his own strength, the organization has to reflect Steele and his agenda for revamping the Republican Party into a force for majority rule.
It’s also not anything unexpected. Political organizations usually have staff purges when new management arrives. Many people leave on their own volition, either out of disagreement with the new governing philosophy or just to make sure they don’t get laid off with no other prospects. Ben notes that the Democrats did the same thing, and for much the same reason — to put Obama’s stamp on the DNC.
With the Republicans, though, one has to wonder whether any other candidate would have replaced the entire staff as Steele did. Ken Blackwell may have, as another outsider, but Mike Duncan would have kept his entire team in place. Katon Dawson and Chip Saltsman, as relative insiders, might have looked for continuity, too. Right now, continuity isn’t what the GOP needs.