After their big electoral victory at the beginning of the month, the next question for Republicans is, how do they maintain and expand their control of Congress? An obvious component to that question is what to do with beleaguered Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who’s managed to lose the confidence of just about everyone with his support for the leftist in NY-23, his abandonment of the mission in Afghanistan, his chronic foot-in-mouth disease, and lots, lots more. But if not Steele, then who? Radio host John Batchelor thinks he’s got the answer. After recapping Steele’s thrilling tenure at the reins of the RNC, he writes on the Daily Beast that Michigan Republican Committeeman Saul Anuzis is the man for the job:
Anuzis, once a Teamster, qualifies by temperament and territory. “He’s more at home with blue-collar people than the Washington types,” reports a Michigan observer. “His father’s a Reagan Democrat. He’s a big Reaganite. He’s good on TV, but there’s no need for him to act like an elected official. He stopped the bleeding in Michigan in 2006 and 2008. We never would have been able to do well this year without his foundation. He’s blue-collar. He focuses on work.” There is a fair chance the RNC will choose another direction—Katon Dawson of South Carolina and Steele insider Reince Priebus of Wisconsin are mentioned—but nowhere can the committee find more fertile ground for the next cycle than in the Rust Belt states and with the Reagan Democrats whom Anuzis knows intimately. The 2012 presidential cycle will be fought out in the Obama-won states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, more than 100 electoral college votes even after redistricting. Anuzis’ Lithuanian heritage, his Teamster fluency, the striking fact that his immigrant parents and paternal grandparents received the Righteous Among Nations award from Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, for sheltering three Jewish children from the Germans, and most pertinently, his 30 years laboring in the Detroit vineyards, all point to a confident, working-class Hercules. In addition, Anuzis comes from a state more cursed than any other aside from California by the taxes of Democratic state regimes; and if the GOP is to prosper against a gifted incumbent president and a union-rich Democratic apparatus, it needs muscle beyond the Confederacy and the Wild West. The wrong choice for the GOP is to try another celebrity manqué who will feel at ease hanging out with the chattering Palin or the strutting Romney. The midterms were a step, like clearing the woods, and now it’s time to plow the abandoned Rust Belt and the most suspicious Farm Belt.
That’s an impressive résumé, to be sure, and a more Middle-America, get-things-done presentation would be a good contrast to the bumbling, often out-of-touch Steele and reinforce the problem-solver image the GOP wants to cultivate in the face of rising unemployment and public dissatisfaction presided over by Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.
But what about his political principles? Does Anuzis really get the Right? I confess that today’s the first time I’ve heard his name (any Michiganders in the audience are encouraged to share their thoughts in the comments), but an initial overview certainly looks promising. Anuzis talks a good game on the usual slate of “consensus” conservative positions—shrinking government, cutting taxes, education reform, etc.—and he seems strong on social and defense issues, too. He supports full constitutional protection for the unborn, has earned the hatred of the gay Left for standing up for marriage, and in 2008 opposed appeaser Ron Paul’s participation in the GOP primary debates. Plus, he’s maintained a blog at RedState since 2006, suggesting he may be both more familiar and more comfortable with the grassroots than many Republican politicians. On the other hand, if he wants to mount an effective campaign, he might want to do something about his currently-blank website. The RNC will choose their next chair in January. Whoever else decides to enter the fray, this is already shaping up to be a race worth paying attention to.