When he holds a national conference call with leaders of the Republican National Committee, embattled party chairman Michael is expected to announce he will seek another term.
The decision is important because his potential withdrawal — which had been speculated all weekend and most of today — would have set up a free-for-all contest to determine who will lead the Republican Party heading into the all-important election to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2012.
However, the Frum Forum and conservative media outlets reported this afternoon Steele is expected to announce he will seek re-election.
Steele has been facing questions of his handling of the party. He is pro-life but he has disappointed many grassroots conservatives by a lackluster fundraising effort and a poor get out the vote effort that is cited by some election experts as hurting pro-life Senate candidates in Washington, Colorado, West Virginia and elsewhere.
He has been beset by a string of gaffes — including coming under fire for his abortion comments when, in an interview with GQ, Steele said he thought women have, according to the interviewer, a “right to choose abortion.”
On Saturday evening, he sent an email to RNC members with the subject line “Conference call” saying: “Dear Members, Please join me for a private conference call, Monday December 13th at 7:30 pm (EST). For your personal conference code please RSPV to … Thank you, and I look forward to talking to you Monday evening. Michael.”
Regardless of his decision, it will set up an election during the January RNC meeting where 168 members of the RNC board will decide the future of the party.
Several Republican Party activists have already indicated they will run for the chairman post, regardless of Steele’s decision.
They include Wisconsin Republican Chairman Reince Priebus, Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican chairman, Gentry Collins, who served as RNC political director until last month — when he resigned and issued a scathing report on Steele’s tenure and financial and fundraising problems.
Other candidates include Ann Wagner of Missouri, former co-chair of the RNC and Maria Cino, a longtime Republican official with ties to former President George W. Bush and who has the backing of RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Ed Morrissey, a pro-life conservative who blogs at the popular Hot Air web site, says the time has come for a change if Obama opponents want to see a 2012 presidential campaign that has a strong chance of winning.
“The wheels came off of the RNC in 2009-10, and the GOP simply cannot afford a repeat in the presidential election cycle of 2012. When Steele used his star power to win election to his first term, even some of his supporters understood that Steele didn’t have a track record for organization and fundraising,” he explained. “It was his media savvy that Republicans wanted, which is why the series of gaffes stunned and angered the GOP over the past two years.”
“While Steele will undoubtedly take some credit for the historic win in the House in the midterms, the RNC was essentially irrelevant, deep in debt and no GOTV efforts in the home stretch,” he said. “If third-party groups hadn’t ridden to the rescue, Nancy Pelosi might still be speaker — and if the RNC had organized properly, the GOP might have picked up a few more seats in the House.”
Two pro-life women’s groups have already weighed in on the chairmanship controversy.
Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, recently wrote that the Republican Party needs a new chairman heading into the 2012 presidential election cycle who is more committed to pro-life values and has a stronger fundraising and voter turnout ability.
And the Susan B. Anthony List will co-sponsor a debate featuring the RNC chair candidates on January 3.
“It is critical that the next RNC chairman sincerely recognize the electoral power of the pro-life movement, can articulate its message, and is prepared to advance its priorities,” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. “We look forward to vetting the candidates on life through thoughtful questioning and open discussion.”