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Michael Steele: On his way out as Republican Party chair?

From the start, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele was not only a historical figure in the GOP but a controversial one as well. Now he may be on the way out.

By Staff writer / December 12, 2010

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele campaigns for Republican candidate for 3rd congressional district Jon Runyan in October in Toms River, N.J.

Tim McCarthy/The Asbury Park Press/AP

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From the start, Michael Steele was not only a historical figure in the Republican Party but a controversial one as well. Now he may be on the way out.

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Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is expected to announce his intentions about running for reelection to the top party post Monday evening. Several sources are reporting that he is expected to step down when his two-year term ends in January.

IN PICTURES: House Republicans retiring in 2010

“Steele … has built no known reelection team or structure, making a campaign unlikely in the face of competition that grows fiercer by the day,” reports Politico.com. “Key supporters expect him to drop out of the hotly contested race.”

As the first African American to head the RNC, Steele was seen as a counterpoint to the first African American president.

But the former Maryland lieutenant governor was gaffe-prone in his outspokenness, and critics within the GOP saw him as inept at fund-raising. Put off by Steele’s personal style and RNC management, some major donors began shifting to congressional campaign funds, the Republican Governors Association, and other conservative causes.

“The party, under his leadership, failed to raise the major-donor money that is required to defeat Barack Obama,” former RNC finance director Gentry Collins told the Wall Street Journal. Collins had resigned over alleged fiscal mismanagement by Steele.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Connecticut Republican Chairman Chris Healy blames narrow GOP losses for governor in Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut in the recent elections on the RNC's failure to provide more money for voter turnout.

“Clearly, the whole Steele administration has really been about promoting Mike Steele for whatever future role he was going to play in the American political debate and not really focused on what the core mission of the Republican Party is,” said Healy.

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