The Republican National Committee will meet in January to choose a new chairman, and the reporters at Hotline's On Call blog have been keeping a running total of how many votes each candidate has been able to announce publicly. Michael Steele has publicly secured 15 delegates (85 are needed for victory), and I found some of his declared supporters quite interesting:
Peter Ada, Guam national committeeman
John Frey, Connecticut national committeeman
Holly Hughes, Michigan national committeewoman
Mary Jean Jensen, South Dakota national committeewoman
Robert Kabel, District of Columbia Party chair
Pat Longo, Connecticut national committeewoman
Lilliana Belardo de O'Neal, USVI committeewoman
Louis Pope, Maryland national committeeman
Holland Redfield, USVI national committeeman
Pat Rogers, New Mexico national committeeman
Herbert Schoenbohm, USVI Party chair
Norm Semanko, Idaho Party chair
Joyce Terhes, Maryland national committeewoman
Bob Tiernan, Oregan Party chair
Betsy Werronen, District of Columbia national committeewoman
Four of his 15 declared supporters come from U.S. Territories that have no voting role in American elections. That reminded me of this story from Reid Wilson from October:
The Republican National Committee wrote a $15,000 check to Guam in September, spending money in a U.S. territory in advance of an election in which the party is already hunting for new sources of cash.
The RNC made the transfer on September 24, according to reports filed late Wednesday with the FEC. That money will go to help elect Sen. Eddie Calvo (R), who is running to replace term-limited Gov. Felix Camacho (R) in the island territory's governor election.
RNC communications director Doug Heye said the money went to Guam because the island falls in to the party's D2H program, a campaign launched by chairman Michael Steele aimed at winning races in all 50 states, from Delaware to Hawaii.
As Wilson notes in that article, the U.S. Territories each get three votes for chairman, for a total of 15 votes between them, or just under 20% of the total needed for election. So far, Steele has four of these votes, plus another three from the District of Columbia, which does not vote for Congress and which, of course, has no serious Republican presence in it to make a significant bid for electoral office.
As I have written before, this RNC election will be a great test of the continuing viability of the Republican National Committee. Its job in the 21st century is to raise as much money as possible to fund the party campaign, but its organization has its roots in decades long gone by. Is it possible to become RNC Chairman even if you have done a terrible job at that task? Possibly. We'll know next month when the committee renders its final verdict on Michael Steele. If, somehow, he manages to win reelection, that might signal to concerned Republicans everywhere that it is time to rethink the old, outdated party structures that are still in place. Maybe it will be time to move beyond the RNC, which will have rendered itself all but irrelevant for 2012.