QUERY: Why did Steele’s own supporters think he was going to drop out?
A: They were always careful to note, as we did in stories, that he was keeping his cards close, and that he has been nothing if not unpredictable. Over the past 48 hours, Steele refused to communicate with his own staff as prepared his bid from a Gmail account. But allies looked at the contract offers that came in this fall from TV networks and others, and assumed that Steele would act in the best interest of himself and his party. Steele has actually lost support in recent days, according to RNC vote counters, and has no apparent team or architecture for a race with several strong contenders and many credible ones…
QUERY: Could he win?
A: Yes, he could, because he has spent much of his time in office greasing the committee members. Top donors say that if he wins, they will publicly formalize their de facto boycott of the RNC under Steele. So there’s going to be pressure for the field to consolidate behind a few challengers. Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is the favorite, and could win outright if Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour publicly embraces him. Otherwise, it’ll probably turn into a second-ballot race between Steele and one of the other challengers: Ann Wagner of Missouri, former RNC co-chair; Gentry Collins, who was RNC political director until last month; Maria Cino; and Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican chairman.