The Republican Party faces an uphill battle winning back the hearts and minds of the center of the electorate, but it made great progress toward that end with the election of Michael Steele as Party Chairman.
It took a half-dozen ballots, but the RNC Members got it right.
Steele has run statewide in Maryland multiple times. He knows what it’s like to carry the Republican banner in a largely Democrat state. He knows from personal experience as a Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senate candidate and state party chairman in a blue state that Republicans must build a broader, more inclusive coalition if the party is once again to be competitive coast to coast.
Steele is an effective communicator who will not be shy about speaking the party’s message to a broader audience than Republicans have been able to reach in the past.
All too often, Republican candidates have written off urban areas. Worse yet, the GOP at times pitted urban and suburban areas against each other for electoral gain. Many Republicans have paid only lip service to communicating its message outside the party's traditional comfort zone.
Not Michael Steele. When he ran in Maryland, Steele worked hard to earn votes in overwhelmingly Democrat Baltimore and Prince George’s County. It is that type of effort that will pay dividends for the GOP, sooner or later.
If Republicans hope to win back the hearts and minds of pragmatic centrist voters in the suburbs who have been steadily leaving GOP candidates since 1992, first at the Presidential level and more recently at the state and local levels, the party must make a commitment to competing again in urban areas. Being unable, unwilling or uncaring enough to address the needs people who live in cities has led to the atrophy of the party not just in those cities, but in the suburbs surrounding them.
As long as some in the Republican Party routinely accept single-digit support from African-American voters, the party will lose elections. And as long as some in the Republican party insist on rhetorical and legislative battles that alienate Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing segment of the American electorate, the party will lose.
Steele won’t accept the status-quo when it comes to the Party’s dwindling support among minority voters.
If Republicans are to become a majority party again for this county, it will take more than just one election of 168 RNC Members. However, a great first step has been taken.
Prior to serving as the political director for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, Michael DuHaime was campaign manager for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential run. He also previously served as political director for the RNC and as regional political director for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.