Steele Takes Active Role in Maryland Politics, Eyes 2010; Rising-Star Republican Might Run for Governor

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 2, 2006 | Go to article overview

Steele Takes Active Role in Maryland Politics, Eyes 2010; Rising-Star Republican Might Run for Governor


Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMESTimes]

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has rebounded from his election loss by returning to an active role in state Republican politics, positioning himself for a potential run for governor in four years.

"I'm just trying to make sure our party gets back on its feet and stands tall," Mr. Steele told The Washington Times. "If we don't do the groundwork now and pull ourselves up, 2010 won't matter and 2008 won't matter, either."

Since his loss Nov. 7 in the U.S. Senate race, Mr. Steele has helped recruit and promote candidates for state party chairman and members of the central executive committee, who will be elected today at the state party convention in Annapolis.

Mr. Steele, who served as state party chairman from 2000 to 2002, said it was "too soon" to commit to a run for governor, but he did not rule out the possibility.

"I'll always be prepared for opportunities," he said.

He also said that after the re-election loss of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the state's first Republican governor in more than 30 years, the party must rebuild the way it did after 1998. That year, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey narrowly lost a second gubernatorial election to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.

"We struck gold right out of the box," Mr. Steele said of his 2002 win with Mr. Ehrlich. "I think we can do it again."

Senate Minority Whip Andrew P. Harris said he was "encouraged that [Mr. Steele] wants to have influence" in party elections.

"That means Michael Steele is here to stay with us as a political force in Maryland," said Mr. Harris, Baltimore County Republican.

Carol L. Hirschburg, a Republican political consultant in Maryland, said Mr. Steele remains a "rallying point" for the party even after it suffered major setbacks in the election.

The nation's anti-Republican mood helped restore the Democratic Party's almost complete control of state government in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1.

Mrs. Hirschburg joined Mr. Harris and other party insiders who anticipate a 2010 gubernatorial run by Mr. Steele, who entered the Senate race as a rising star in the party and continues to attract national attention.

"It was always assumed .. that he would run for governor," Mrs. …

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