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Farewell, Michael Steele

2:26 PM, Dec 13, 2010 • By JAY COST
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Update 6 PMOh good lord:

Controversial Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who last month presided over the GOP's biggest electoral gains since 1938, will announce tonight that he is running for re-election, Fox News has learned from two RNC members.

Ending weeks of rumors that he would not seek a second term, Steele plans to throw his hat into the ring during a conference call with RNC members at 7:30 p.m. ET, the sources said. Steele is said to be amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post, Fox has learned.

I for one am glad that he is "amused" because, when you get right down to it, it's all about Michael Steele, isn't it?

This might actually be a good test of the RNC to prove that it still has value moving forward.  The national party committee system is a very old one indeed, going back over 100 years.  A lot has changed in American politics since then; in particular the party organization itself is no longer a central part of the American political system.  This is doubly true for the state party organizations, which are just shadows of their former selves, but nevertheless are still basically in charge of picking the RNC Chair.

Over the last 40 years, the national party organizations have found for themselves a new role in distributing money to get around (legally) the campaign finance regulations.  This is not what they were originally meant to do, of course, and they bring certain strengths and weaknesses to this particular project.  The success of Republican outside groups this cycle raises an interesting question: do Republicans really need the RNC moving forward, or could other groups accomplish this job just as easily?  After all, it is amazing how little the RNC contributed to the historic Republican success last month.  It's fair to ask whether they really are an essential part of the Republican campaign.  If the RNC is unable to get rid of Michael Steele, we might go a long way toward getting our answer.

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