RNC asks Steele to replace Mehlman
By Ralph Z. Hallow
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 10, 2006
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman,
whose party just lost both chambers of Congress, will
leave his position in January, and the post as party
chief has been offered to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S.
"It is true," Mr. Mehlman told The Washington
Times when asked about reports last night that he
would resign. "It's something I decided over the
summer. No one told me I needed to. In fact, folks
wanted me to stay."
Mr. Mehlman said he "told the White House over the
summer it was my decision" to leave the RNC post,
"win, lose or draw."
Also last night, Republican officials told The
Times that Mr. Steele, who lost his bid for the U.S.
Senate on Tuesday, has been sought out to succeed Mr.
Mehlman as national party chairman. Those Republican
officials said Mr. Steele had not made a decision
whether to take the post, as of last night.
Other Republican Party officials said some
Republican National Committee (RNC) members, including
state party chairmen, have mounted a move to have Mr.
Steele succeed Mr. Mehlman.
But they said that President Bush's political
adviser Karl Rove, who is Mr. Mehlman's mentor, would
rather see Mr. Steele serve in the president's
Cabinet, perhaps as secretary of Housing and Urban
Development. These officials said no one has actually
offered Mr. Steele either the RNC post or a Cabinet
Steele spokesman Doug Heye said last night that "I
don't know of any conversations that Lt. Gov. Steele
has had on this topic, but I can tell you that there
are many people who have said he would be an ideal
candidate, based on the race he ran this year."
"I talked to him very briefly about it today. He
has not made any decisions yet about what he will do
next. He is still focused on his role as lieutenant
governor," Mr. Heye said.
Mr. Steele is one of the most successful and
respected black Republicans in the country. He served
as the elected Maryland Republican Party chairman
before running for lieutenant governor.
The White House, RNC and National Republican
Senatorial Committee (NRSC) were pleased with what
they called his tough but dignified performance as
senatorial candidate in a liberal state that last
elected a Republican senator in 1980. The NRSC had
enough confidence in him as a candidate that it
directed large amounts of money into independent
expenditures on behalf of his campaign in the closing
Mr. Mehlman also told The Times he will not step
down as Republican national chairman until the RNC's
annual winter meeting in Washington. He said he also
"will do an intensive after-action review" of the
The outgoing RNC chief was a regional political
director for the 2000 Bush presidential nomination and
general election campaigns and then was named White
House political director after Mr. Bush's election.
Mr. Mehlman managed the successful 2004 Bush
re-election campaign and implemented the vaunted
"72-hour task force" -- the final days program to get
out the vote for Republican candidates using the
latest and most sophisticated technology and massive
grass-roots, door-to-door volunteer program. That
Republican "ace in the hole" failed to materialize in
After the 2004 election success, he was the choice
of Mr. Rove for national party chairman and Mr. Bush
let it be known that he agreed. As is traditional when
a Republican occupies the White House, the 165-member
RNC then elected Mr. Mehlman as chairman at its winter
meeting following the 2004 elections.
Earlier yesterday, Mr. Mehlman was asked at a
luncheon with reporters whether he would announce his
future plans at the RNC. He said he had made a
decision, which he would announce at a future time.
He stressed, however, that he had made that
decision before the election losses, and the two
Asked about talk that he would join a possible
presidential bid by former New York Mayor Rudolph W.
Giuliani, Mr. Mehlman said, "I have no plans to do the
2008 primary. I will focus on private sector, the
party generally and ultimately on [whoever is] the
"After seven years of this kind of this [brutal]
schedule, I am ready -- and really looking forward to
-- the private sector.
"Don't worry," Mr. Mehlman added. "I will remain
committed to the cause" of conservatism.
Jon Ward and Amy Fagan contributed to this