The Republican National Committee, a 168-member body of Party stalwarts that represent the entirety of America's Republican Party, voted to oust current National Chairman Michael Steele after only two-terms. The former first black Lt. Governor of Maryland, who saw his stature and popularity rise through his leadership at the ever-powerful GOPAC and his appearances on television networks such as Fox News, can also now attribute that fame to his demise as the powerful leader of the GOP.
Holding their biennial elections in Steele's backyard of Prince George's County, Maryland, the first term Chairman seemed confident in his re-election prospects though no one other than him seemed to share those same sentiments. The gaffe-prone chairman has had a certain roller-coaster ride throughout his two year tenure, from being the HRIC (Head Republican In Charge) during the 2010 historic election sweep that saw 63-seats gained in the House with six netted seats in the Senate, while also changing 21-state legislatures from Democratic to Republican. However he also saw his blundering comments regarding the "Afghanistan War", mixed with his ealry predictions of the GOP not gaining a majority in the House, come back to haunt him in the end. Though he can claim to raise $192-million thoughout the election cycle while 'Firing Pelosi' as his 48-state bus tour promised, he also left the Party in financial shambles according to insiders, leaving them with more than $20-million in debt.
Yet despite all the chatter for his resignation, or for him to not seek re-election for the next two years, which shall see the 2011-13 Chairman focused on a Presidential Election in 2012 against presumably the Democratic nominee Barack Obama, Steele did not bow out graciously. Instead he mounted an aggresive challenge that saw him never lead in the polling of votes on Friday, which saw the newly elected Chairman Reince Priebus, the former Wisconsin GOP Party chair, elected after seven rounds of balloting. The Nation saw Chairman Steele bow out of the race after the fourth round of balloting, releasing his delegates, all 28 of them at the time, to longtime Republican strategist Maria Cino. Speaking to the crowd of on-lookers and party faithful Steele started by saying, "The Party wants to do something different; therefore I will step aside for others to lead."
"Chairman Steele should be applauded for the electoral gains this electoral cycle. He committed and fulfilled his promise to work hard to make serious GOP gains nationwide," says Maryland Republican staffer Bryan Shuy, who works for a State Senator and is a young, rising star in Maryland's GOP. "With that said, I don't think it will dramatically alter the party's standing with minorities. I think it's important to note this was a watershed year not just for Republicans, but the minority Republicans who turn a blind eye to race, ethnic origin or gender," said Shuy when asked what Steele's departure means for blacks in the Party. However others seem to differ from that stance. Longtime political observer and blog-talk host Catalina Byrd says that "it shall be a very long time before another [African American] is elected Chairman of the Party. Matter of fact, I doubt we will see it in our lifetime."
Agreeing with this sentiment and taking issue with the fact that Republicans try and make the case that Steele wasn't only elected at that time [January, 2009] as another black face to rebut that of newly elected African American Democratic President Barack Obama, was Doni Glover of Bmorenews. "The election of [Reince] Priebus as Chairman is absolutely no surprise to me or those who look like me. In fact it just puts the face of the Republican Party back to its rightful place; a white male," said Glover. "I mean the GOP so narrowly represents the interests of America, for many in this country are feeling the pinch of an economic strain placed on them by the Republicans, yet I do not see too many poor GOP members. Go figure!"
However when folks make that blanket statement regarding the long held opinion of most black Americans, when speaking of the Good Ole Party, GOP Young Republican Moshe Starkman takes exception having worked with many black members of the Republican Party side-by-side for years. "Michael Steele was not and is not the only Black in the Republican Party. Americans elected (2) Black Republicans to US Congress last year and more members of the African-American community are finding their political homes in the Republican Party. For most in the GOP, it's not about race; we're not going to elect someone to meet some kind of affirmative-action quota." Starkman, who ran for the State party's leadership this past December and is a major business leader throughout the State's GOP, is blind to the racial aspect, despising those who make that uneducated statement. "We judge our elected officials by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. We elected Michael Steele in 2008 because he inspired us with his optimism and modern-style leadership," said a fuming Starkman. "We do not judge our leadership through semantic and pandering considerations. We judge our leadership through performance, confidence, and one's ability to continue serving in a meaningful capacity."
Not only were the two Congressman, Tim Scott (S.C.) and Allen West (Fl.) Moshe spoke of, elected this past year, however so where the likes of Jennifer Carroll as Florida's first African American Lt. Governor,Rep. Jamie Herrera, the first Latina representative from Washington state and Rep. Bill Flores in Texas, Susana Martinez as Governor of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval as Governor of Nevada and who could forget Senator Marco Rubio of Florida; all representing the Latino community. However with that said, how many more black and latino Democrats are there now then there were in the 60's and 70's, and those that get elected on just that basis today do such as to it not even being a "big deal" any longer due to its regularity.
So where does that really leave a GOP Party reeling from a racial PR problem? Should the Party have overlooked the financial mishaps of Steele and concentrated on the racial aspect of what he would bring to a Party debate with America's first black President in 2012? Or was the leadership of a man who almost single-handidly won back a governor's office and saw the Party under his leadership in Wisconsin unseat a three-term Democratic Senator (Russ Feingold), pick up two congressional seats and flipped the state legislature, to much to by-pass? Either way, the Party who once represented the interests of Blacks until the 1960's Goldwater movement which seemingly won them the People of the South, yet lost them a race of People known as African Americans; must begin to take a serious look at itself and begin to answer the call for a more diverse playbook, in order to get those who do look like Michael Steele more involved in not only the Party, but in the leadership of the Party?
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