Steeleing Away

by Brien Jackson

Sean Quinn is reporting that the end could be very near for Michael Steele, and that he will almost certainly be forced out of his position if the Republicans lose the special election to fill Kristen Gillibrand’s House seat in NY-20. DougJ responds:

A little background here. The race should be a gimme for Republicans: it’s a +3-4 Cook PVI for Republicans (too jet-lagged to look this up) and Republicans have a massive registration advantage, something like 18 points. The only reason Gillibrand ever won it is because she ran a perfect campaign and her opponent was caught beating his wife a few weeks before the election. In this race, Republicans have local legend Jim Tedisco (minority leader of the State Assembly) and the Democrats have someone with low name recognition, Scott Murphy (any Democrat will have low name recognition since all the local offices are held by Republicans). It should be a 10-15 point win for Republicans.

But it may not be. And the reason isn’t Michael Steele’s avant-garde theatrics, it’s Eric Cantor’s decision to make all Republicans vote against the stim bill. Tedisco won’t say he which way he would have voted on it, because voters in the district like it, but he can’t buck Cantor et al.

I think Doug is right, on the merits of this, and certainly this foreshadows some problems the Congressional GOP’s strategy is likely to create in 2010, at least, but as it relates directly to Steele, I think it takes the reasoning with a bit too much credulity. The bottom line is that Michael Steele is going to be forced out, which is unfortunate, I suppose, and I do think it’s something of a shame that the first black RNC chairman has been such a failure, but at the end of the day Michael Steele has been a failure. Apart from embarrassing himself with his affected, Carlton-esque, idea of how he should “keep it real” with his blackness, there are looming ethical scandals involving his 2006 run for the Senate, and he has generally not come off as an effective surrogate for the Republican Party. But most damning of all, as I understand it, is that, thus far, he seems to be simply refusing to staff the RNC. The RNC has no senior staff at the moment. None. No political director, no chief of staff, no commnications director. And the way I hear it, there’s no indication that Steele plans to hire any; whether because he doesn’t have a clue how to run the RNC, or because he actually intends to be the entire show himself. But in any event, Michael Steele has a lot of problems that go well beyond NY-20, and it’s like a matter of when, not if, he gets forced out.