Updated 9:12 p.m. Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele announced on a conference call with RNC members Monday night that he will seek reelection, defying the expectations of many and setting up what appears likely to be a hotly contested race to retain his seat.

Now garnering backing from 50 or fewer of the 168 RNC members -- he'd need at least 85 to win reelection -- the former Maryland lieutenant governor kept his own counsel on the decision until the last minute and has come a long way from the combative figure who once dared members of the party to oust him if they didn't like his style.

"I'm the chairman. Deal with it," he'd told a radio host in response to intra-party sniping as recently as July.

Here's how the man in charge of the GOP committee during Republicans' record electoral year damaged his own reputation -- and why his bid for election won't be an easy one: