A significant bloc of Republican National Committee members wants embattled chairman Michael Steele to step aside, but the rank and file have failed to settle on a clear alternative, according to Associated Press interviews with committee members.
More than four dozen interviews with members of the 168-member central committee found fear that a badly damaged Steele could emerge from the wreckage of a knockdown, drag-out fight to head the party as it challenges President Barack Obama in 2012. While most agree that Steele’s time has been rough and costly the members also recognize that a leadership fight could overshadow gains that Republicans made in the midterm elections.
With balloting set to take place in just two months, many just want Steele to go.
“You can’t keep spending the kind of money they’re spending every month just to operate the RNC,” said committee member Ada Fisher of North Carolina. “I would hope he would step aside.”
“The question is who should be hired for the next two years, It’s not a matter of firing anybody,” said James Bopp, a committee member from Indiana who holds great sway among social conservatives on the panel. “I just don’t think Steele has performed at the level we need for the presidential cycle.”
In interviews with 51 committee members, 39 said they preferred Steele not be on the ballot when they meet near Washington in mid-January to pick their leader.
For his part, Steele hasn’t said whether he will pursue the 85-vote majority needed for a second term. Already, members have been hearing from others interested in that quest.