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Steele's Job Puts RNC Leadership In Question

JENNIFER LUDDEN, Host:

On Monday, candidates vying to chair the Republican National Committee will hold a debate. Incumbent Michael Steele led the GOP to big gains in Congress and at the state level in November, yet he's still fighting for his job.

W: Joining us now is Joy-Ann Reid. She's a Miami Herald columnist and editor of the blog ReidReport.com, and she's in the studios of WLRN. Welcome to the show, Joy.

M: Hi, Jennifer. Great to be here.

LUDDEN: So remind us. Now, by all past measures, having your party do better than the other party means you get to keep your job, is that right? But not so in chairman Michael Steele's case?

M: And he's not the kind of chairman who stays in the background and does his job. He wanted to be out front. He wanted to be on TV. And unfortunately, he was - and not in a good way.

LUDDEN: Now, he still wants the job, though, but he's got five challengers. Who are the more viable candidates?

M: And then you've also got Gentry Collins, who actually worked for Michael Steele. He was his political director. He's seen as kind of an outlier candidate. He doesn't have a lot of support, in part because he worked for Michael Steele.

LUDDEN: So the role maybe has become more high-profile. But you've also got, you know, we've got the Internet, social media playing a bigger role in fundraising and rallying public support. Has the nature of the job of party chair changed in these times?

M: The next RNC chair is going to start with only about $1.9 million in the bank. Are they as important when you can raise money so many other ways? I'm not sure.

LUDDEN: Well, what is each party doing right, and what do you think they need to do better?

M: So if the DNC and the RNC can just focus on organizing their state parties, both parties will be better off.

LUDDEN: Joy-Ann Reid, editor of the Reid Report and columnist for the Miami Herald, and she joined us from the studios of WLRN. Thank you very much.

M: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.