Michael Steele is done.
He may remain as Chairman through the next year, but any hopes for an effective chairmanship of the RNC have vanished. He’s bloodied and bleeding. And there’s no reason to think anything short of an overwhelmingly dominating month of fundraising in April can begin to save him.
Because of this now widely held perception by GOP insiders and, just as importantly, major GOP donors, Steele must go.
The problem? It’s not easy to oust a Chairman who doesn’t want to go anywhere. Voting members of the RNC are keeping their mouths shut. And interestingly enough, the big three, Boehner in the House, McConnell in the Senate, and Barbour for the Guvs, are as well. That silence has to give those looking for a Steele resignation hope. If at least two of those three call for his resignation, Steele is done.
So what happens then?
Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post seems to think the most likely scenario would be the ascension of Jan Larimer, the Vice-Chair, to Chairwoman.
Nothing against Vice-Chair Larimer, but I hope that’s not the case.
If Steele is ousted, the GOP will need a commanding force, but not dominating personality, in charge. They’ll need a proven and trusted leader. They’ll need someone they can count on. They’ll need a winner.
Gillespie is the rare high-profile political operative who has no enemies within the party. Talk to any Republican elected official or party strategist about Gillespie and he is roundly praised as a peerless strategic mind and one of the rising stars within the ranks. Gillespie has previously served as RNC chairman, which gives him relationships with committee members that other potential candidates don’t enjoy. And, he is also well regarded among high-dollar donors — an important constituency particularly in a presidential cycle. While Gillespie is a popular choice, it’s not clear whether he would want to take on that sort of responsibility within the party — particularly given that he’s already been there and done that.
And there’s the rub. Would he accept the post?
You have to hope so. Gillespie’s skillful leadership of the RNC during the 2004 Presidential led to fantastic fundraising numbers and an unparalleled ground game. At the end of the day, it’s also a good choice for Gillespie. Sure, his reputation is already stellar, but to lead the RNC back from the brink and to a takeover of the House would place him at a ‘Haley Barbour in 1994’ level of stardom within the GOP.
Now some may call for a higher profile leader to assume the chairmanship, but the last thing the RNC needs right now is another big personality. Selecting a Chairman isn’t a choice for best spokesman. While occasionally appearing in front of the media is an obvious part of the job, it isn’t the priority. Instead the job should be held by the best strategist, best organizer, and best fundraiser, all in one package. Instead of a big personality we need the strong, unassuming winner that inspires confidence in both the volunteers that win races and the donors that fund them.
And I guarantee, the week Gillespie assumes the chairmanship, the RNC will see one of the best fundraising hauls its ever seen in a non-Presidential year. Why? Because the powers that be will want to organize a show of force that shows the Party is behind its Bandaid Chairman.
So what do you say, Rep. Boehner, Senator McConnell, and Governor Barbour?
It’s time to place a bandaid over the wound that has become the Steele chairmanship.
This post can also be seen on Rightosphere