The Republican National Committee's leadership chose their Party's new leader last week. Wisconsin state Republican Chairman Reince Priebus will serve for the next two years.
On January 4 I wrote a piece for Fox News Opinion called "Steele Does Not Have The Mettle To Remain As RNC Chair." In that piece, I accurately predicted how the RNC chairman's race would play out.
It took seven rounds of voting before Priebus was able to secure the 85 votes out of 168 votes necessary to secure the chairmanship. He led every round of voting.
In the first round incumbent chairman Michael Steele was able to secure only 44 votes and thereafter in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round of voting Steele's support began to fade fast and after the 4th round of voting having only secured 28 votes Steele dropped out throwing his support to GOP veteran operative Maria Cino, the candidate supported by Speaker Boehner. -- Boehner¹s support however was not enough for Cino to surge and she lost, coming in third in a field of three in the final 7th round of voting.
The other candidates Saul Anuzis the former Michigan State Chairman and Ann Wagner a former RNC co-chairwoman never caught fire and Wagner dropped out after the 6th round while Anuzis stuck it out to the end winding up with a mere 43 votes.
Who is Reince Prebus? He is a 38-year-old lawyer who has an impressive record in Wisconsin in leading the Republican Party to victories this past election cycle. He most recently was the General Counsel of the RNC. As Wisconsin state chairman he was able to raise money and create a battle plan that was able to defeat democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, return the Governorship to the GOP and was able to pick up two House seats.
He is seen as humble, effective and a bottom-line business minded executive.
Not only that but Prebus has demonstrated that he's interested in the best results at the lowest cost. This is what he said after he was elected as chairman of the Republican National Committee:
"Together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012 -- together, unified as a committee," he went on to state, "We're going to start by putting a solid business plan in place to operate effectively and efficiently, to begin to restore the faith of our donors."
What does the new chairman need to do? Here are several immediate priorities I respectfully suggest that RNC Chairman Priebus should do to get the RNC's house in order:
1. Take a full and complete assessment of the staff and their mission;
2. Appoint a Finance co-chairmain who is respected and has the ability to raise the necessary funds needed to rebuild the Party's coffers and amass the funds needed for 2012;
3. Appoint to the level of co-chairman a technology guru who can revolutionize the way the RNC uses current and new technologies with an emphasis on registration, fundraising, voter outreach, mining, targeting and information providing. Raising a technologically-skilled man or woman to the level of co-chairman will signal how important technology is to the party;
4. Hire a top executive headhunter who can build an office within the RNC to identify talent from around the country to run for office and be worthy of national support. Just like sports teams who employ talent scouts the RNC should have a scouting office constantly looking for, attracting and supporting political talent. --Today's effective mayor today could be tomorrow's next U.S. Senator. All state Party chairmen should be involved in identifying, fostering and supporting future leaders;
5. Undertake a full and complete audit and assessment of the current RNC payroll and budget;
6. Hire a well-respected and effective Chief Operating Officer with the mission to run the RNC like a business. The emphasis should be on building a lean, mean and effective entity that is results oriented in every department;
7. Create a 5-year business plan. The vision of the new chairman must extend beyond his own 2 year tenure. For the RNC to be successful it must be as effective between election cycles as it is during election cycles;
8. Announce a 2012 Convention Team as soon as possible. This will allow the best possible planning, budgeting, fundraising and contracting well in advance of the convention;
9. Create a close and integrated relationship with all state party chairs with specific attention geared toward "battleground" states;
10. Hire a first class communications team that will develop, coordinate and disseminate the RNC message;
11. Review all outside consultant contracts;
12. Get to work now on your 2012 battle plan. Be sure to take into account a full assessment of what was done in 2004, 2008 and 2010. What worked? What didn't? What needs to be done differently or better?
The new RNC Chair will be given a wide berth to retool, restaff and reclaim the Republican National Committee to an effective and well-respected party organization.
Chairman Priebus must not allow himself to get bogged down in issues that take his focus away from the immediate tasks at hand. The RNC's immediate problems are not in ideology they are in operations. And, the time is now is the time for bold, effective and respected leadership.
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