Fredi Simpson, the Republican national committeewoman from Washington State, has yet to pick a candidate for the first ballot, but she knows one thing: “I don’t have an objection to Chairman Steele.”
In fact, she’s got an argument in his favor: He’s a grassroots kind of guy. “Chairman Steele came to my little town. I live in the middle of the state — you have to pass the mountains to get to me,” Simpson explains. Grassroots activists appreciate Steele’s four visits to the Evergreen State, particularly because he favored the smaller counties, Simpson contends. They want a chairman who will “mingle with them, embrace them, [and] not shun them.”
What’s more, Simpson worries the other candidates may be less down to earth. “Would they come to the smaller communities or are they of the elite where they will only . . . hobnob with the rich, because that’s what they’ve been used to these last several years?” she wonders. That said, Simpson has good things to say about all the candidates, except Reince Priebus, who she says neglected to warn the committee of its problems — if there really were any. Ann Wagner and Maria Cino have “top-notch résumés,” and Saul Anuzis is in her current top two — along with Steele.
Simpson’s favorable opinion of the chairman stems in part from his outspokenness. “Last summer, one of our top Republican leaders — not from my state — told the state chairman, national committeeman, and me that we needed to get rid of Steele. And this was before the debt.” Frustrated by these backroom comments, Simpson asks, “Are we going to elect somebody who’s simply going to be a puppet for the Republican leaders or are we going to have someone who speaks out on behalf of the grassroots?”