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RNC asks Steele to replace Mehlman

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20061110-121131-5518r.htm RNC asks Steele to replace Mehlman By Ralph Z. Hallow THE WASHINGTON TIMES November 10, 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 10, 2006
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      RNC asks Steele to replace Mehlman

      By Ralph Z. Hallow
      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
      2006, however.
      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
      weren't related.
      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
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