The Weekly Standard caught a tweet from Saul Anuzis, the former Michigan Republican Party chairman, saying he will again run for RNC Chair. He will probably not be the only challenger to incumbent Michael Steele.
Steele seemed like a good fit for the job when he bested five rivals – including Anuzis – in January 2009 in a grueling, multi-ballot race. He provided much-needed racial diversity to the ranks of the Republican talking heads and brought blue-state credibility. On the heels of the 2008 shellacking, the Republicans badly needed to demonstrate they were more than a party of white southerners.
From the beginning, there were whispers about Steele’s lack of conservative street cred. Where Steele has drawn criticism, though, has been in the “blocking and tackling” – the basic elements of a party chair’s job, like fundraising and building a GOTV infrastructure. (In fact, Anuzis uses just that term.) After a six-way race for the chairmanship, criticism was inevitable for whoever won, but Steel made it easier. The whispers in Republican circles (which “unnamed sources” give voice to in the Weekly Standard piece) is that the 2010 gains should have been bigger.
In his announcement, Anuzis channels the 2008 McCain campaign (which poked at then-candidate Obama’s quasi-celebrity status):
My agenda is very straightforward. I have no interest in running for office. I won’t be writing a book. It is not my goal to be famous. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who will work harder, more diligently and be more committed to electing Republicans from the top to every township and city across this great country of ours.
It isn’t worth including at this point in the campaign, but Anuzis has another bullet left in his chamber: his background in digital politics. As the race for RNC chair heats up, look for Anuzis to use this – accompanied by criticism of the failed initial launch of GOP.com – to separate himself from the pack.