Talk about a win-win pick, eh? Both are solid conservatives. Both understand in which direction the Party needs to go. Both will benefit the Republican Party and help us return to our roots.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences.
In actuality, the question Republicans must ask is this….do we want a chair who is a spokesperson or one who builds the Party?
Steele is brilliant on TV. He has a good sense of humor. He communicates the conservative message effectively. He’s smart. But he does not have experience in organization building.
Newt would likely serve similarly to how Howard Dean has at the DNC…behind the scenes. Newt would do what he proved capable of in ’94: developing new and unique ideas, developing strategy to take advantage of whatever the political climate turns out to be in our liberally controlled Republic and building the kind of organization necessary to do so. One negative from Newt’s efforts in ’94 was his lack of focus on recruiting quality candidates. Because of this Republicans have suffered recently by accepting Congressmen who were more focused on building their own power set than helping their district. However, the ’94 revolution was based more on the political environment created by Clinton which enabled Republicans to take full advantage, rather than the quality of individual candidates. Recruiting was simply less important than developing the proper message. I call that prioritzation. And it worked.
So what do we want? Are we so worried about our image as Republicans that we let that take precedence over redeveloping a quality Party organization and message?
Newt for Chairman.
UPDATE: A commenter brought up a severely missed point on my part, namely Steele’s time as Chairman of the Maryland GOP. His tenure there lasted less than two years, so the only year to really judge his Party building experience would be the congressional elections in 2002. In this election, all congressional districts stayed in the hands of the Party that won them in 2000, except the 8th congressional district where Rep. Connie Morella(R) lost to Chris Van Hollen; a net loss for Republicans of one congressional seat.
It should be noted that Rep. Bob Ehrlich did win the Governor’s race in 2002 in an upset after Steele left his position as Chairman of the Party and became Lt. Governor. However, this was in the face of several local and congressional losses and against a poorly run race by an inexperienced Lt. Gov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.