Days before the most contentious Congressional midterm in recent political history, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele is discovered stumping about for long shot Black Republican candidate and Harlem Minister Michael Faulkner, who is battling favored incumbent Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for the 15th Congressional district seat.
Steele visits New York after a stop in Rhode Island rallying supporters there, and days after a Meet the Press interview where he was questioned about his “political relevance.” Said Steele in response:
No, I’m not irrelevant. We’re keeping pace with the Democrats right now.
I’ve said from the very beginning, I would be a different kind of chairman because this is a different time for us, for our party…I wanted us to play on all 50 states. I wanted us to be out in the communities. I wanted a grass-roots, bottom-up party that was focused on what the people want out there.
But, it doesn’t go unnoticed that Steele is not as visible as months before, staying much further under the radar as midterms approach. Some party insiders praise the Chair for overhauling the RNC and refocusing it. Others sharply criticize him for a string of public gaffes and embarrassments, with Committee members calling for investigations into finances under Steele.
Steele is up for re-election as Chair in January 2011 at the RNC Winter Meeting. It will be difficult to justify Steele’s ouster if Republicans make big wins on Nov. 2.
Reports Steve Peoples in CQ Politics on the Chairman’s Harlem visit:
A day after rallying with Rhode Island’s tiny Republican party, Steele is scheduled to visit New York City Tuesday afternoon to stump for Michel Faulker, a local pastor and Republican challenger in New York’s 15th district.
Rangel, a 20-term incumbent, survived a crowded Democratic primary last month and is widely expected to dominate Faulkner of Election Day. A Republican campaign operative conceded last month that even former President Ronald Reagan couldn’t win a head-to-head matchup against Rangel in the 15th district, which includes Harlem and Spanish Harlem and is among the most Democratic districts in the nation.