Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has at least one person sprucing up their resume to take his position in January 2011.
Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman has expressed strong interest in holding the chairmanship when the next term begins. He will head to the RNC’s summer meeting in Kansas City in August. During that time, he will attend a tribute to a fellow Republican and meet with some of the members who will choose the group’s new leader next year.
Publicly, Norm Coleman is only saying that his “focus is on the 2010 elections,” according to an email he sent to Politico. He has committed to helping Republicans win back some of the seats they lost in the 2006 and 2008 elections. As the GOP’s chances of victory increasing in the fall, Coleman, as the possible chairman, would be poised to lead a new resurgence for the Republican party.
Coleman is vying for the seat currently held by Michael Steele, the RNC’s first black chairman. Steele’s nearly two-year tenure has been marked with questions about his leadership of the group as Republicans try to win back favor with voters.
Steele’s leadership of the RNC has been called into question at several points during his time in office. Most recently, Federal Election Commission filings show that the RNC is heavily in debt, to the tune of nearly $7 million according to its treasurer.
Several of Steele’s well-publicized gaffes have not helped to project the image of Republicans in touch with voters either. Steele came under fire when he said the conflict in Afghanistan is “Obama’s war of choosing.” [The U.S. actually entered the war in the Afghanistan and the broader War on Terror under former President George W. Bush]. He was caught in another controversy in March when FEC records revealed that a staffer spent nearly $2,000 of RNC funds at a bondage-themed strip club in California.
Coleman currently serves as CEO of the American Action Network, a group dedicated to supporting conservative ideas and candidates. He was locked in a heated and public re-election battle early last year with challenger, and now U.S. Senator, Al Franken (D-Minnesota). Coleman lost the election by 312 votes statewide, according to Politico.
Observers, still, are quick to note that Coleman’s ability to rally powerful contacts and raise funds makes him an ever-attractive candidate for the RNC gig.