Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has announced he will seek a second 2-year term as GOP head in spite of numerous contenders seeking to unseat him.
For Steele its déjà vu all over again. In 2009 Steele decided to jump in the race for Republican National Committee chairman -- taking on an incumbent chairman and a crowded field of contenders.
Back in 2009, Steele faced four contenders and it took six separate ballots to garner the 85 votes out of 168 votes necessary to win the GOP chairmanship.
The 168 committee members of the Republican National Committee will meet in January to elect their new national Party chairman.
It has been reported that Steele waited to announce his intentions to run for re-election because he was meeting and calling committee members and gauging support. There is no doubt that Steele’s reign as chairman has been rocky and not without his share of problems and challenges.
Having said that, Steele’s leadership has also had great victories and successes. -- Some of his doing and others as a result of being in the right place at the right time.
After Steele became chairman in 2009, he helped raise a record midterm amount of money: $178 million. The problem is he spent over $182 million.
The good news is that Steele presided over a historic midterm cycle in 2010 that should make fundraising robust in 2011 and beyond which will eliminate the Party's deficit and refill its coffers.
Steele has also made numerous public relations gaffes and offered the following admission in his announcement to seek another term: “Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings.”
Steele may not have been the perfect party chairman and does allege widespread support among those charged with electing the chair. It is being reported that Steele enjoys solid support from at least 40% of committee members.
As Steele confirming his willingness to seek re-election, he joins other contenders already in the race, including Reince Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party; Ann Wagner of Missouri, who served as ambassador to Luxembourg in George W. Bush’s administration; Maria Cino, a political strategist who has the support of former Vice President Dick Cheney ; Saul Anuzis, a former party chairman in Michigan; and Gentry Collins, who resigned last month as the committee’s political director.
Former RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, who Steele beat is also considering a run.
Just as in 2009, the incumbent chairman is unlikely to win on a first ballot which will be evidence of some party dissatisfaction and the challenge he will face to hang on to his post.
If the election goes beyond a second ballot Steele will also have to face the fact that many supporters might jump ship on him in succeeding ballots and it is likely he will be defeated.
If he were to be re-elected beyond a second ballot it will be hurtful to him and the Republican Party and show the deep division over his continued leadership.
If he is re-elected as chairman, Steele’s first order of business will be to unite the Party in advance of what will be a spirited and challenging next two years.
If Steele is defeated, Republicans face the same challenges to unite the Party under new leadership and find a way to get the Tea Party supporters back in the GOP tent and restore the Party treasury.
Whoever becomes chairman of the Republican Party in January 2011 the challenges will be great. The Party needs unity, money, qualified candidates, organization, enthusiasm and success.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush