Will Florida Produce the Next RNC Chair?
Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer (see photo), as you may know, is in the mix to be the next chair of the Republican National Committee. He faces a lot of competition from the chairs of the Michigan and South Carolina state parties, from Mike Huckabee’s former campaign manager, former Iowa congressman and Bush Administration official Jim Nussle, and from former Maryland Lt. Governor Mike Steele.
So where does Florida stand in all this?
Not bad, actually.
I can’t pretend to be in the know among the 168 voting members of the Republican National Committee, but Greer seems like a strong candidate.
Why? Didn’t McCain lose Florida? Didn’t the Republican loses two congressional seats?
Well… yes, but…
But Michigan went double digits for Obama and McCain was publicly humiliated when the media caught wind of the fact that his campaign was pulling well in advance of the election. And South Carolina? Well, South Carolina was never in danger, but it also means that it is not a showcase for one’s ability to win in difficult or even challenging circumstances.
Obama’s victory in Florida moves us once again to the top of the strategic target pile, much as we were after 2000. With Gov. Charlie Crist remaining a rising star, particularly by managing to mostly stay away from McCain, except as necessary not to appear to be publicly repudiating him, so as not to be tainted – well that is just icing on the cake.
Chip Saltsman, Huckabee’s campaign manager would be a poor choice unless the party decides that the former Arkansas governor is the man they need to lead them to the promised land in 2012.
Jim Nussle reputation as a pragmatic moderate - the sort of person who might be able to pull the Republican brand out of the doldrums. Naturally, he doesn't have a chance. It doesn't help that he joined the Bush administration's budget team after leaving Congress to run for Iowa governor and lose. Nor does it help that his former seat is now safely and solidly Democratic. Really, I don't think he has a chance.
That leaves Mike Steele. When our own hapless Senator Mel Martinez was named RNC chairman, I noted that this was a terrible idea. Martinez is not even close to being a strong political mind and that if the RNC really wanted a minority chairman, Michael Steele was the perfect choice. And he still might be.
Mike Duncan, the caretaker chair of the RNC might still throw his hat in the ring, but I think the GOP is looking for someone who promises change – whether that change is a return to traditional Republican values (the lack thereof being often blamed by conservative pundits for the losses in 2006 and 2008 and the lack of good ideas, message, and direction and the existence of one G.W. Bush being blamed for it by everyone else) or the “big tent” GOP espoused by former chair Ken Mehlman.
Greer has a good fundraising base in Florida (and without a sitting president to rake in the cash, the RNC will need a strong fundraiser). Certainly, if elected, Florida can expect to see a lot money spent to protect GOP majorities in the legislature and to fend off the obituaries already being written for Martinez’ political career.