Defying the expectations of most Republicans as well as pretty much anyone who's watched him on TV, gaffe-prone Michael Steele announced Monday he's running for reelection as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He declared his intentions in a conference call to the 168 members of the group's governing board. Before doing so, however, he defended his job performance for a full 30 minutes, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports, pointing out that his RNC had raised more cash than its Democratic counterpart did in 2006, when Democrats recaptured Congress, though acknowledging more needed to be done.
The response? "Defying all logic, sensibility [and] political acuteness, Steele has decided to run!" Massachusetts Republican committeeman Ron Kaufman mass-emailed upon Steele's announcement, reported by Politico. His reaction mirrors that of many, many others.
- Watch What Steele Does Next, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes.
Much depends on the approach Steele takes in the weeks between now and the voting, in early January. ... Does he break his media silence and go on offense to try and sell his accomplishments through the press? Or does he play an inside game--as he did in the months leading up to the election--wooing rarely-courted members of the 168? Or does he view the bid as a pro forma exercise, simply staying in the race to prove that he wouldn't be intimidated out of it but doing little ultimately to broaden his appeal on the committee?
- Wait, Could He Actually Win? Politico's Mike Allen reports that, yes, Steele could, "because he has spent much of his time in office greasing the committee members. Top donors," however, "say that if he wins, they will publicly formalize their de facto boycott of the RNC under Steele." Because of this, "there's going to be pressure for the field to consolidate behind a few challengers. Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is the favorite, and could win outright if Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour publicly embraces him. Otherwise, it'll probably turn into a second-ballot race between Steele and one of the other challengers."
- RNC's Voting System Matters, FrumForum's Tim Mak reports. "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."
- It's Not the Money, It's the Race Card Sister Toldjah comments on Steele's "insane appetite for insulting the very people from whom he wants to raise money (examples here, here, and here), not to mention his defeatist attitude towards Afghanistan, among other things." Furthermore, she argues, "while it's true we gained 63 seats in the House under his watch, those wins really had very little to do with him and instead had mostly to do with the American people's growing disgust with the uber-liberal agenda of the Obama administration."
- Could Avoid an Ugly Fight "If you believe that, in an age of online donations and targeted giving to campaigns, the RNC will never again be relevant the way it once was, then maybe it's better to keep Steele in place," Hot Air's Allahpundit writes. "It'll avoid a nasty public squabble between pro-Steele factions, led by Palin, and anti-Steele factions like the 'Bush establishment,' and it'll spare us the spectacle of Steele doing interviews to dump on the GOP after he loses."