Michael Steele Makes It Official: He’s Running To Stay At The RNC

Turns out the Steele is stronger than scandal. Embattled Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele will seek another two-year term, despite a first that was marked by gaffe after headline-grabbing gaffe. Politico has his official announcement, which you can read here.

A Steele reelection effort was all but a foregone conclusion until Sunday, when news of a private Steele conference call with the RNC’s 168 voting members led to speculation that Steele might decide against running, leaving a wide-open field of prospective replacements.

The arguments against Steele running for reelection are many. Not only has Steele gone almost totally unmentioned by Republican leaders since his party’s huge victories on Nov. 2, he’s suffered a string of embarrassing leaks from inside the RNC that paint him as an ineffective manager and poor fundraiser.

Yet Steele, who laughs off most of these criticisms (and has for a while now) soldiers on.He’ll now face a broadening field of opponents — including at least two men that, until recently, would have been seen as his allies in a second bid. Former RNC political director Gentry Collins — who quit very publicly and said that Steele’s incompetent fundraising led to losses in more than a dozen races that Republicans could have won — is running for chair. So is the man who helped Steele get the RNC chairmanship in 2009 and led his transition team, Wisconsin GOP chair Reince Priebus.

Those are just two of a slew of candidates jockeying for support among the RNC’s various constituencies. With so many in the fray to replace Steele, it’s clear that most consider him pretty weak when it comes to winning a second term — especially one that will oversee the next Republican Convention and the 2012 presidential race.

But Steele won the last time by reaching out to groups in the RNC’s voting membership that other candidates often ignored, such as the party organization in Guam. It’s not clear how much of that support he has left, but it could be enough to give Steele a fighting chance to hang on.

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