And I thought it was the Democrats who allowed incompetence to rise to the top. Apparently the GOP really wants to follow in those shoes; that is if this report by Reid Wilson from The Hill’s Briefing Room blog is to be believed. (In a related story, they’re predicting a multi-ballot race, which I’ve suspected would be the case all along with several contenders.)
This compilation of those who have announced publicly who they’ll support for the Chairmanship of the Republican Party shows that the incumbent Mike Duncan has the plurality among those who’ve expressed a preference. Granted, there’s only about half of the 168 who vote that have gone public, but one has to wonder why some would continue with a leader who’s already lost one national election.
Perhaps it’s because we’re very close to the situation and there’s a favorite son candidate representing Maryland, but the buzz around Michael Steele based on his debate performance and name recognition doesn’t seem to be permeating all that many of those who actually make the decision next week.
It’s somewhat akin to the situation conservatives found themselves in for the 2008 Presidential primaries. There are several good candidates who will probably split the vote and allow the status quo to win. John McCain was the “establishment” GOP candidate in the 2008 election and Mike Duncan represents the establishment to me.
There’s no better proof of this than noticing that, despite the state having its own favorite son candidate in Ken Blackwell, two of Ohio’s representatives are in the Duncan camp. And this is something else I feel I need to comment on.
Bob Bennett was in charge of the Ohio Republican Party while I served as a Central Commitee member there. While the setup is somewhat different in the Buckeye State, the fact is Ohio Republicans have seen their onetime grasp of each statewide office loosened and ripped away because the state party brass relied too much on their own judgment. They didn’t trust the will of the GOP base enough to select the best candidates – well, that should tell readers in a nutshell why Duncan is the wrong man for the job.
Ken Blackwell has never been the darling of the establishment Republicans in Ohio, who seem to think that candidates have to be wishy-washy moderates to have a chance to win statewide. Unfortunately, the last wishy-washy moderate to win statewide from the GOP side was the reviled Governor Bob Taft, who raised taxes and became embroiled in the Coingate scandal. Once Blackwell finally had the opportunity to run for governor (Bennett and the Ohio GOP talked Blackwell out of running in 1998 in favor of avoiding a primary against their annointed Taft) the party had been damaged beyond repair and Blackwell became the scapegoat, getting less than 40% of the vote.
Personally, I think Steele would be a good national GOP chair but Blackwell would be a better one. One thing whoever wins the nod needs to make priority one is encouraging some of the deadwood to get out of the way and bring aboard new leadership at the state level.
The old guard is what gave the Republican Party both Bushes, Bob Dole, and John McCain. While many of them came in with Ronald Reagan, they squandered much of the Reagan legacy on candidates who failed to ignite the conservative base – or when one was selected, like Sarah Palin, they turned the long knives on her.
We’ve tried it their way for the last 20 years and with the exception of the Contract with America, the GOP record hasn’t exactly been stellar when compared with the stated party principles. Selecting the wrong guy to run the party may accelerate the rush toward the exits for conservative rank-and-file party members and voters.