Conservative blogger Dan Riehl is drawing a connection between one of the contenders for the RNC’s top post and the rumored presidential aspirations of Haley Barbour. A similar too-close linkage to Mitt Romney scuttled the campaign of another RNC chair candidate earlier this month. While no one expects Solomon-like impartiality from the RNC chair, the prospect of a captive team trying to pre-ordain a nomination is sure to irritate the Republican grassroots who showed a strong tendency to push back against establishment candidates in last year’s primaries.
Republicans should pause over anything that could distract the new RNC leadership from the key focus of reaching out to donors who drifted away (or were ignored) for the past two years and putting that money to use in building a 21st century ground game – which will include mouse clicks as well as door knocks and will extend well beyond the 72 hours that was the gold standard half a generation ago. On that score, a team with a proven track record in fundraising and building an effective political ground game might be just the right ticket to rebuild the RNC for whomever makes it through the sure-to-be feisty caucus and primary process.
But in politics, perception often becomes the reality. Suspicion of favoritism might lead to a fracturing of the donor base, as key players hold back until the nominee is settled, hobbling the RNC’s ability to build an infrastructure ready to go mano-a-mano with President Obama’s sure-to-be-formidable ground game in the key battleground states.