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RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost

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RNC Drama Continues

Yesterday I noted Chris Cillizza's report that the RNC had sent $1 million to the NRCC and the NRSC, calling that a good sign that Republicans are beginning to coordinate this cycle.

That conclusion might have been a little hasty. Over at The Hill, Reid Wilson has an interesting scoop:

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele sought to placate critics by giving $1 million to each of his party's debt-ridden campaign committees -- a move that follows a month of bad reviews, national slip-ups and a high-profile fight with one of the country's most famous conservatives

ut sources told The Hill that Robert "Mike" Duncan, the former chairman, had written checks three times that size -- for $3 million to each committee -- before he left, and that Steele slashed them to the smaller number.

That is a "lie," says the RNC -- and so another round of recrimination begins.

Duncan wrote $3 million checks to both the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to help them pay down their debt, sources told The Hill.

But Duncan, out of deference to whoever became the next chairman, decided not to deliver the checks. To do so in advance of the January race for RNC chairman, the sources said, would have appeared self-serving. Duncan did not return a call seeking comment.

You never want to see party committees fight like this (unless, of course, you're on the other side!). If the report is accurate, that's a really bad sign. If it isn't, somebody on the inside is sniping at Steele. Also not a good sign. Internal squabbling won't necessarily prevent the party from winning - recall the tiff between Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel in 2006 - but party coordination is optimal. This is not coordination!

Meanwhile, Fivethirthyeight.com is reporting that Michael Steele will be booted if the GOP fails to win the NY-20 special election. Jim Geraghty is skeptical, and so am I. Four problems: (a) this is a House seat, and so the NRCC is the party committee principally in charge; (b) Michael Steele has only been at the RNC for a month - seems a little early to judge his politicking capacities; (c) this is a seat the Democrats currently control - seems a little harsh to boot an RNC chairman for failing to pick up a House seat when the President's job approval is above 60%; (d) if Jim Tedisco loses, the first Republican to blame would be...Jim Tedisco, not Michael Steele.

This report - which cites "multiple former high-level RNC staffers" - might be true, but if it is that tells me that the RNC is just looking for an excuse to boot him.

But perhaps the worst sign for Steele - Joe the Plumber is going after him now!

-Jay Cost