Change is in the air, and it’s not just a Democrat sound bite anymore. The Republican National Committee has taken an enormous stride towards our Party’s collective future in electing former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele as the GOP’s new Chairman.
As the first major state party Chairman to endorse Michael Steele, I took several factors into consideration before deciding to support Steele’s candidacy: his ability to communicate a clear message, his understanding of technology and how the GOP can more effectively utilize it, and his experience running a large organization. It would be disingenuous to say that Steele’s heritage was not a factor in my decision-making: I am a firm believer in maintaining credibility behind one’s message. The historic election of our Party’s first African American Chairman goes a long way towards our argument that the GOP does indeed care about minority voters and will indeed reach out to these voters with our message of lower taxes on families and businesses, less government red tape, and more personal freedom.
Three days after his election, a FOX News reporter asked Chairman Steele how tough it would be to re-build the party. He replied, “I started off as a black Roman Catholic conservative in Washington, D.C., so it’s all up from here.”
Steele isn’t in denial, and that’s a good thing. He understands that President Obama’s enormous popularity and power over federal legislation, coupled with the GOP’s dwindling numbers in Congress, makes it even more difficult for the GOP to take a principled stance on policy issues, to be the loyal opposition against a President who is still very much in the honeymoon phase.
Chairman Steele also understands that it wasn’t just Democrats who voted for change. He knows that the Party needs a fresh, smart new voice with the political experience to back it up. That’s why he has already hit the ground running, making an extensive round of appearances on national news shows and introducing himself to Republicans across the nation.
While Steele thrives on camera, he’s also a proficient executive on the day-to-day operational front, the behind-the-scenes work that comes with running any major enterprise…especially one of the size and scope of the RNC. But first, we have to ensure that the money is in the bank to implement the new policies and strategies Chairman Steele has promoted.
Chairman Steele will need to tap a new generation of younger, plugged-in fundraisers while continuing to raise resources the traditional way. He will use his technology expertise to implement new fundraising initiatives that provide more buy-in from low-dollar activists via the internet. The RNC will be more ground-up and less centralized, and one of the first ways to do that is to connect with the netroots and conservative bloggers and provide the mechanism for low-dollar, viral fundraising pitches.
We can talk all we want to about social networking, messaging, and strategy, but we can’t do it without the money. For example, to put the infrastructure in place for iPhone apps and text messaging, we have to have money. To recruit good candidates and register more Republican voters in new and innovative ways, we have to have money. To get our message out more effectively by every means possible, we have to have money.
Fortunately, Chairman Steele has experience running several large organizations, from a state party to a political action committee. He’s moved fundraising online and is a self-described “techno-geek.” Perhaps most importantly, he has successfully surrounded himself time and again with teams of professional operatives who get the game and passionately seek results.
I am proud to be a part of that team and to serve as one of Chairman Steele’s earliest supporters and now a co-chair of his transition team. I am incredibly excited about working with Chairman Steele and breathing new life into the RNC. I am humbled by the opportunity to re-commit myself and the Republican Party of Florida to the conservative principles set forth by Abraham Lincoln and championed by today’s Republicans, under the leadership of our new RNC Chairman.
Since Governor Crist appointed him as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer has worked to expand the Party’s minority outreach, enhance the lines of communication between Headquarters in Tallahassee and counties across the state, and make the Party a more relevant player in state and national politics.
Overwhelmingly re-elected as Chairman in January 2009, one of Chairman Greer’s top priorities continues to be minority outreach, and he has pledged to work with the party’s leadership councils to more effectively reach out to minority families, businesses, and communities. Chairman Greer has also enhanced communication between the state Party and local County leadership, traveling around the state to interact with local leaders and Party activists.
Throughout his chairmanship, Greer has also focused a national spotlight on Governor Crist and the State of Florida, advocating for a January Presidential Preference Primary election and bringing the Republican Presidential candidates to Florida for three nationally-televised, primetime debates. An early supporter of newly-elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Chairman Greer is a member of the Steele transition team and is focusing on political strategy and a top-to-bottom review of RNC staffing and operations.