The casual observer may be forgiven for thinking that Michael Steele will be a non-factor this Friday when the Republican National Committee gathers to select its chairman for the next two years.
They would be mistaken.
Steele, the current chairman who has been beset by two years of almost continuous controversy and gaffes, is widely assumed to have no chance at winning a second term. But that outcome is not a lock, despite the fact that key Republicans have been working tirelessly to ensure Steele is defeated.
Based in part on the insularity and murkiness of the RNC election process, and partly on Steele’s built in advantage as an incumbent, many of the most informed RNC members and observers believe that he is very likely to have the most votes after the first ballot Friday.
“I think that’s long been the expectation. He’s the incumbent and still has a strong base of support,” said Saul Anuzis, who is one of the top candidates for chairman running against Steele.
“The issue is how big is that number,” Anuzis told The Daily Caller, referring to Steele’s vote total on the first ballot. “Over 60 … could signal stronger than expected results. Is it in the mid 50s? That confirms he probably can’t make up the 35 [plus] votes he needs to win. Or will he fall below 50, which would signal the committee clearly is looking for an alternative.”