Word has it that Michael Steele, currently chairman of the Republican National Committee, will use a conference call with committee members tonight to announce that he will not run for another term. There were growing expectations that he would not run again, especially after the weakness of his fundraising efforts came to light, coupled with highly controversial early expenditures on the Republican National Convention for 2012.
Of course, there’s always the chance Steele will defy expectations and use the call tonight to announce he is running for another term. He’s noted for saying unexpected things. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post says he’s heard from a “Republican insider” that “the chairman is planning to run again.”
Whether Steele runs again or not, some formidable contenders have announced their intention to compete for the position, including:
Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 2005-2009, who previously ran against Steele for the RNC chair in 2009. He chairs the RNC Committee on Technology, which was created during Steele’s tenure. Yes, committees have committees, which are created during especially productive committee meetings. It is a well-known principle of biology that committees reproduce by mitosis.
Gentry Collins, formerly political director of the RNC. He resigned in November, for reasons made painfully clear in a widely distributed memo, criticizing Steele’s neglect of fundraising and voter turnout operations and loose spending of RNC cash. Collins can campaign for the chairmanship by waving this memo and promising to do the opposite. He picked up the endorsement of Connecticut Republican Party chairman Chris Healy last week, when Healy announced he would not make a bid for the RNC chairmanship himself.
Ann Wagner, formerly Co-chair of the Republican National Committee. (Chairs also reproduce by mitosis!) She also ran Roy Blunt’s successful underdog campaign against Robin Carnahan in Missouri. She’s been endorsed by legendary conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.
Maria Cino, a late entry who served in George Bush’s Commerce and Transportation Departments, and previously held the Deputy Chair of the RNC. (Ah, the pitter-patter of even more baby chair legs!) She has the support of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
More candidates may yet announce themselves. It seems unlikely that any of those currently in the race will sweep the first round of voting, so there should be a lively campaign ahead. It will be even livelier if Steele doesn’t drop out of the race tonight.