RNC Chair Race: Lay Of The Land...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Nov 25, 2008 9:16 AM
Chris Cillizza has a very good "lay of the land" piece out on the RNC Chair Race.  I'd recommend reading it if you are interested in this contest for the future of the GOP. 

Here's my take on the candidates Cillizza mentions...

- Mike Duncan:  (Current RNC Chair) -- Regardless of how good he is, I cannot fathom why anyone would want to stick with a Bush loyalist who ran the RNC these last several years.  It just defies logic.

- Michael Steele:  (Former MD Lt. Gov) -- As I have noted before, Steele would be a terrific spokesman for the RNC.  He is charismatic and has plenty of TV experience.  My concerns about him regard his conservatism, his organizational abilities, as well as the DC insiders who are currently running his campaign.

- Saul Anuzis:  (MI Chair) -- Anuzis is well-connected in the conservative movement.  However, during his tenure, Michigan has gone more and more Democratic.  Of course, this is hardly his fault.  Still, I cannot see why you would send a manager to the big leagues who hasn't turned around his minor league team.

- Chip Saltsman: (Fmr. Huckabee campaign manager) -- This has not been mentioned much, but a hidden secret is that about a quarter of the committee members voting this time will be new.  What is more -- because McCain really didn't have a grassroots following -- a lot of Huckabee folks (and to a lesser extent, Ron Paul folks) became state chairman -- and will be voting for the first time.  How did this happen?  Essentially, deals were brokered which allowed delegates to cast votes for McCain, while Huckabee loyalists took control of the party.  In short, at first I thought Saltsman was merely running to make a name for himself.  But there is a chance that the new state chairman will give him some surprise support.  On another note, I have heard that just prior to Huckabee's dropping out of the presidential race, the Washington Times killed a story about how Huckabee was staying in the campaign in order to help provide income for Saltsman's consulting firm.  While this is surely a rumor, it may again surface if he becomes a serious contender for this chairmanship..

- Katon Dawson: (SC Chair) -- Granted, South Carolina is already a conservative state, but Dawson has been very successful there.  Dawson also seems to be a competent, shrewd, and tough pol (South Carolina is famous for this) -- something we desperately need in our leaders these days.  On the downside, I've heard from several Republicans who are worried about electing a white southerner -- with a southern accent -- to go head-to-head against the first African American president...

- Jim Nussle: (former IA Congressman) -- I don't know too much about Nussle, except that he was once thought of as a Republican rising-star, but has faded a bit.  I've got some research to do.

- Jim Greer: (FL Chair) -- I've met Greer once, and he was very nice.  He has a reputation as a moderate, but is thought of as effective.  The only interesting thing to note about his chances is that apparently he was kicked-off of Sarah Palin's airplane at some point during the presidential campaign.

Note:  If you are used to predicting who will win campaigns, keep in mind that the rules here are vastly different.   Just 168 committee members have votes.  (Each state has a chairman, a national committee man and a national committee woman.  Why 168 instead of 150?  In addition to the states, Guam, Puerto Rico, DC, etc. have votes, too). 

As you can imagine, having a universe of only 168 voters, dramatically changes the way you can campaign.  This places a greater emphasis on coalition building, relationships, and earned media, etc. -- over traditional campaign methods...