As RNC Chairman, Steele installed his crony Belinda Cook in a $15,000 a month make-work job (on top of a $25,000 “signing bonus” for a job most people would kill for without it) on the staff planning the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Complaints about nepotism and high living on the part of Ms. Cook and her aides/relatives played a role in Steele’s ouster after just a single term at the head of the party, despite presiding over historic wins in the 2010 elections.
Then, Steele waded into the contentious National Committeewoman’s race between Nicolee Ambrose and Audrey Scott. He wrote an obsequious letter praising Mrs. Scott and also paid for an ad in the convention program touting her candidacy. As Steele interjected himself into the race, alienating Ambrose’s supporters in the process, other senior politicos – Bob Ehrlich among them – wisely chose to stay out of it.
Well, we all know how that turned out.
Now, there are news reports that Michael Steele and Bill Clinton’s house apologist, Lanny Davis, have partnered to form a consulting business called “Purple Nation Solutions.” This announcement has drawn a flurry of criticism in the media. Indeed, one observer quipped, ““Launching a consulting firm is something people with great connections and zero skills do all the time.”
I have no idea whether the Steele-Davis venture will succeed. Time will tell. But, it seems that the launch of Purple Nation Solutions has indirectly resulted in at least one positive outcome.
Sources tell me that Michael Steele has communicated to MD GOP officials his intention to close his state elections account and focus on the new business.
In other words, he’s out of Maryland politics – for now, at least.
Before these developments, Steele’s name had been touted as a possible candidate for governor in 2014. As I blogged previously, this would have been a mistake if not an outright disaster for Maryland Republicans. While Steele’s name recognition might have given him an edge in the primary, his baggage would have made him especially easy pickings for state Democrats, who could be expected to attack his skills as a manager in light of his rocky RNC tenure.
It’s time for the MD GOP to stop recycling figures from the past like Steele – a two-time loser in statewide elections – and to focus on developing the new generation of leaders.
Michael Steele is a decent guy. I wish him the best. But right now he’s where he needs to be: Far removed from Maryland’s political landscape.