Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Florida's Martinez tapped for RNC chief

Washington Times reported Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, co-author of a bill to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, has been picked by White House strategist Karl Rove to be general chairman of the Republican National Committee, RNC officials confirmed yesterday.... While the chairman is elected by the 165-member RNC -- which next meets in Washington in January -- the committee traditionally acts as a rubber stamp for a Republican president when the party controls the White House.

They should have named Steele and Martinez as co-chairs.
The surprise Martinez appointment, leaked yesterday to selected TV outlets and wire services, cut off a move by conservative Republicans to have Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele take over the national party chairmanship. Current Chairman Ken Mehlman announced last week he would step down at the January meeting

CQ blogged Conservatives have problems with Martinez over his moderate position on immigration most of all. Martinez supported the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive reform plan, as did Bush. For those who see that as a major problem in energizing the base, choosing him as RNC chair seems like putting out a fire with gasoline. Even his decision to remain in the Senate irritates them, because a resignation would allow Jeb Bush or Charlie Crist to nominate a replacement, one more inclined to champion the conservative cause on immigration.

This makes Steele more likely to get an offer to join the Bush Cabinet, perhaps in Martinez' old job at HUD. It still seems like a bad choice for Steele, who might want to keep his options open in Maryland instead. Spending two years in a lame-duck Cabinet hardly seems to be a career-builder, especially at HUD.

Blogs Of War blogged The choice is drawing mixed overwhelmingly negative reviews

A. Mocny blogged Steele knows what the country is feeling right now, and how to reform the Republican party in a manner which shall speak to that sentiment. Senator Martinez would make a fine GOP chairman, but he has work to do on his constituents' behalf. LTG Steele will be done serving the citizens of Maryland around the same time Mehlman will be stepping aside. Why the RNC would choose to pass up a more qualified candidate who is willing and able to dedicate his time to leading the party would be beyond me.

Hot Air blogged Hot Air commenters agree: it’s an awful pick, transparently aimed at appealing to pro-amnesty Hispanic voters. If the GOP goes ahead and puts Boehner and Blunt back in place in the minority leadership, you’re looking at a very dire electoral situation in 2008.

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