Michael Steele Come On Down
November 10, 2006
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, whose party just lost both chambers of Congress, will leave his position in January, and the post as party chief has been offered to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.
"It is true," Mr. Mehlman told The Washington Times when asked about reports last night that he would resign. "It's something I decided over the summer. No one told me I needed to. In fact, folks wanted me to stay."
Mr. Mehlman said he "told the White House over the summer it was my decision" to leave the RNC post, "win, lose or draw."
Also last night, Republican officials told The Times that Mr. Steele, who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, has been sought out to succeed Mr. Mehlman as national party chairman. Those Republican officials said Mr. Steele had not made a decision whether to take the post, as of last night.
Other Republican Party officials said some Republican National Committee (RNC) members, including state party chairmen, have mounted a move to have Mr. Steele succeed Mr. Mehlman.
But they said that President Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, who is Mr. Mehlman's mentor, would rather see Mr. Steele serve in the president's Cabinet, perhaps as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. These officials said no one has actually offered Mr. Steele either the RNC post or a Cabinet post.
..........................Lt. Gov. Michael Steele R-MD
Steele spokesman Doug Heye said last night that "I don't know of any conversations that Lt. Gov. Steele has had on this topic, but I can tell you that there are many people who have said he would be an ideal candidate, based on the race he ran this year."
"I talked to him very briefly about it today. He has not made any decisions yet about what he will do next. He is still focused on his role as lieutenant governor," Mr. Heye said.
Mr. Steele is one of the most successful and respected black Republicans in the country. He served as the elected Maryland Republican Party chairman before running for lieutenant governor.
The White House, RNC and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) were pleased with what they called his tough but dignified performance as senatorial candidate in a liberal state that last elected a Republican senator in 1980. The NRSC had enough confidence in him as a candidate that it directed large amounts of money into independent expenditures on behalf of his campaign in the closing days.
Mr. Mehlman also told The Times he will not step down as Republican national chairman until the RNC's annual winter meeting in Washington. He said he also "will do an intensive after-action review" of the campaign.
The outgoing RNC chief was a regional political director for the 2000 Bush presidential nomination and general election campaigns and then was named White House political director after Mr. Bush's election.
Steele says he would take RNC post if asked...
What an exellent choice, no one will call him Oreo, Uncle Tom, or Sambo anymore.