RNC Chair Michael Steele To Announce Political Plans

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele plans to break the silence about his political future on Monday, and party insiders expect him to announce that he will not seek another term at the helm of the RNC.

Both supporters and opponents of Steele caution, however, that it is impossible to predict his next move with certainty and he has not offered any public indications about which way he is leaning.

Steele sent a message to Republican committee members over the weekend inviting them to join him on a 7:30 p.m. conference call Monday night.

RNC members will gather in Washington, D.C. in mid-January to pick the next chairman, and Steele is looking increasingly vulnerable. Key allies have left his side in recent weeks and the line of candidates vying to replace him is growing longer.

He and the RNC have been hit with a string of negative stories, including the news that the committee is more than $15 million in debt and is having trouble paying its vendors on time. Critics charge that Steele has been a poor steward of the party's finances and allowed its high-dollar donor program to languish.

Prone to verbal gaffes, Steele's tenure as the head of the committee has been tumultuous. He has presided over a number of embarrassing episodes, including revelations that the RNC paid for a fundraising excursion to a sex-themed nightclub in California.

Candidates seeking to succeed Steele, include Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan GOP; Ann Wanger, former head of the Missouri Republican Party; Reince Preibus, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party; and Maria Cino, a veteran of the Bush administration.

Cino informed members of the committee over the weekend that she was definitely in the race.

"You recognize that we won some great victories last month," Cino wrote in a letter to the RNC's 168 voting members. "Unfortunately, almost to a person, you are concerned about the performance of the RNC. Many wonder what victories were left on the table because of the poor performance of our national party headquarters."

She added, "The RNC's current troubles run deep and wide. We suffer from a staggering debt, loss of technical superiority, diminishing donor support, and a failure to register the millions of new Republican voters we will need in 2012."

Several others are considering jumping into the race, but have not made it official yet. They are Gentry Collins, who resigned last month as the RNC's political director; Mike Duncan, who preceded Steele as chairman of the RNC; and Norm Coleman, a former senator from Minnesota.

If Steele decides not to run for re-election, it may give the green light to Coleman, who has vowed to stay out of the race unless Steele steps aside. Coleman heads the American Action Network, a group that raised money for Republican candidates and causes during the 2010 cycle.

RNC committee members will vote for the next chairman during the committee winter meeting that takes place in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 12-15.