Diary

RNC Chairman Update

Rather than making dozens of posts about the RNC Chairman’s race, let me make a summary:

Alex Knepper was quite thrilled by Michael Steele’s statement to CBN news regarding his membership in the Republican Leadership Council:

Wake up people. I mean, what are you going to do? Are you going to kick these folks out of the party? I have watched this party self disintegrate for the last four or five years. I’ve watched this party isolate itself from itself.

This may be a unique opportunity to build a relationship or a bridge between the conservatives and the moderates in our party and so she asked me to serve on her board and I said well this will be good. It’ll be a pro-life conservative voice on a board with a pro-choice leadership that is looking to elect moderates. We have to elect moderates in the party.

For all you little folks out there who think that you’ve got me on this: you don’t. My being on this board had nothing to do with lessening my conservative values or somehow appeasing them or compromising them. It had everything to do with reasserting them.

Let me give a conservative assessment: What Steele said here is the equivalent of John McCain’s GOPAC statement: “Calm down.” Ultimately, this doesn’t explain the objection. In the video, he compares his service on the board of the Republican Leadership Council to appearing on Bill Maher. Bill Maher isn’t a Republican moderate who aims to “reclaim the Republican Party.” Nor to go on Bill Maher does it require you partner up with Planned Parenthood and the Log Cabin Republicans.

Bottom line: If Steele is elected, he’s going to enter as RNC Chairman with a higher level of distrust from the base than other candidates for Chairmen. It may have inspired Alex, but Steele’s answer is a turn off to base conservatives who are already turned off.

Contrary to Alex’s suggestion, the GOP hasn’t been running Tom Coburns in Massachusetts. Indeed there was a pretty strong grassroots effort online to support pro-choice Jim Ogonowski against Kitty Tsongasin 2007. Name the Arch-Conservative nominated in Connecticut or Massachusetts or Rhode Island that lost in a winnable district. In fact the NRSC spent millions of dollars to save the worthless hide of Liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee. The Republican Party has not been shy nominating moderates, including in areas where a conservative could win. Moderates have not won because of an increasing liberal tilt of their district. An example that Steele cited in his case for moderates, Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD) got defeated 6 years ago.  

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Two endorsements in the RNC Chairman race. Bill Bennett endorsed Michael Steele while Steve Forbes endorsed Ken Blackwell. The Bennett endorsement means squat. Bennett doesn’t command a large national movement, but is a lesser version of Michael Medved and occasional talk show guest. Steve Forbes has money and ran for President in a campaign that Blackwell played a key role in in 2000.

Let’s remember this. This will not be put to an online poll. Nor will anyone else be asked other than the members of the RNC regarding the fate of the candidates. Celebrity endorsements will mean squat. In both letters, no real appeal is made. I think supporters of Blackwell and Steele may be in for a shock when we get around to voting.

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Seperating fact from gripe with Saul Anuzis is kind of hard. The fact is that a lot of the home folks in Michigan are ticked off with him. A disgruntled Senate candidate send out a letter to RNC members dishing on Anuzis. When you cut through all the gossip, you’re left with some basic salient facts:

1) Since Saul Anuzis became Chairman, Michigan Republicans have lost 17 Republican-held State House seats, two incumbent Republican members of Congress, four Republican held University board seats, numerous open seats, and an incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He has not won a single targeted race since becoming Chairman.

So why the heck is being considered for Chairman again? Even his much touted social networking and online skills are being attacked. While the person raising the argument  (Hat Tip: Townhall.) is biased (a big time booster for Mike Duncan) there’s some truth in it. I’ve got to tell you: I’m not impressed that the Michigan GOP has a You Tube channel with 3 videos all of which are about a year old. It’s a great idea to have a chairman from a traditionally Democratic State. It’s a terrible idea to have a chairman who pretty much has failed as a State Chairman. Why are we going to give him an opportunity to screw up on the national level, too?

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Chip Saltsman is sending signals to anyone who might be hesitant to support him because of his work for Huckabee:

“[The Huckabee campaign] is part of my resume but it doesn’t define me politically,” Saltsman explained. “I’m not sure if you look at my history that you’d think I was a Huckabee guy. You could just as easily say I’m a Bob Corker guy, a Lamar Alexander guy or a Frist guy.”

He also noted his strong leadership against his political mentor Governor Don Sundquist on the state income tax issue shortly after becoming chair of the Tennessee Republican Party as evidence that he is a man willing to go against politicians he may be associated with.

Saltsman certainly made no apologies for his association with Huckabee and spoke with pride of his “13 months” on the campaign but he did make sure to put a bit of distance between himself and the Huckabee message. Saltsman made it plain that he was a straight politics guy in his role as campaign manager — a hired hand — not the idea man.

“Mike Huckabee was responsible for the issues in that campaign, not me,” Saltsman said.

The RNC definitely doesn’t want a Chairman whose goal is to promote a Presidential Candidate and I think people with that concern will find Saltsman’s re-assuring. Saltsman biggest challenge is that he’s not a member of the RNC.

Many consider that a key requirement and if that’s the case Katon Dawson, Mike Duncan, and Saul Anuzis have to be considered frontrunners, but I wouldn’t count out Saltsman entirely.