FrumForum can confirm that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is leaning towards an announcement that he is running for reelection tonight on a conference call with RNC members.
An RNC member close to the Chairman tells FrumForum that it is a certainty.
Over the last few weeks, even close allies to the Chairman were unsure as to whether or not he would run for a second term.
Steele will likely receive strong first ballot support in his bid for the chairmanship. But what remains to be seen is whether he has any growth potential beyond the first ballot. 85 votes are required to win the chairmanship, and in order to win Chairman Steele will need to convince RNC members that he is a viable second choice.
Of course, Steele’s first term has come with its share of difficulties: he called Rush Limbaugh’s show “incendiary” and “ugly”, then apologized for his statements; he was criticized by Bill Kristol and others for calling Afghanistan “a war of Obama’s choosing”; and said in January of this year that he didn’t think Republicans could regain the House.
Although not directly involved, Steele was at the helm when the RNC was found to have spent money on a sex-themed nightclub, which led to the resignation of his chief of staff. Most recently, the Daily Caller published a series of stories revealing that Chairman Steele’s former personal assistant and her family were receiving tens of thousands of dollars to work on the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa.
Despite the negative press, Steele maintains a substantial amount of support on the committee: even those critical of Steele’s tenure as chairman estimate his support in the 45-60 vote range. And those who continue to support Steele argue that the chairman’s actions in the last cycle were crucial to Republican victories in November.
“Chairman Steele will be reelected because of his continued outstanding victories, raising more money than anybody else, and ability to communicate to more communities than any prior chairman,” Shawn Steel, the National Committeeman from California, told FrumForum, pointing out also the important role that the RNC played in the 2009 gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey.
Idaho GOP chair Norm Semanko, who went to law school with Steele, recently wrote to RNC members in support of Steele: “Now is not the time to trade-in proven electoral success for unproven hope. Now is not the time to change leaders. And now is not the time to be distracted into internal strife and battles among one another for power and control of the GOP infrastructure.”
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UPDATE: At the time of this writing, we are reporting Steele’s thinking as we can ascertain it. But Steele has been unpredictable over the last few weeks. He could still change his mind.
That said, he’s booked for Greta van Susteren tonight at 10.
Stay tuned for updates.
Posted at 5:08 pm by Tim Mak
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UPDATE: Key Steele ally New Mexico National Committeeman Pat Rogers tells FrumForum: “I’d be shocked if he didn’t run.”
Posted at 6:08pm by Tim Mak
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UPDATE : Bob Tiernan, chair of Oregon, to FrumForum: “I fully expect [Steele] to run. There’s no question in my mind that he’s running.” Tiernan has been an outspoken supporter of Steele, and a key ally on the committee.
See ‘The Tiernan-Yue Spat‘ for evidence.
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