The Corner

Steele’s Champions Rise to His Defense

Jody Dow, the Republican national committeewoman from Massachusetts, and Joseph Trillo, the committeeman from Rhode Island, tell National Review Online they’re sticking with Michael Steele. “I think Michael has fulfilled what he promised to do,” Dow says. “I think he is open with everybody. He doesn’t fool around. He gets it done. The rest of them [the other candidates] are in it for the power play, more or less.”

“Some of the insiders are never going to be happy no matter what goes on,” Trillo adds. “I think they’re throwing everything at him. Did he make mistakes? Yes. But would anybody else have done a better job? Absolutely no. Not in the climate he took over in.”

Dow chafes at the argument that Steele’s tenure has witnessed a flight of major donors. “I think it’s a tough time right now. Some of these major donors just don’t have the money, like the rest of us,” she argues. “These criticisms [over major donors] are coming from people who are rigid in their thinking. I felt we had to open up this party to whoever wanted to come into it — not to get into these little groups — so we need to go back to the big-tent approach, and I think Michael is doing that.”

When confronted with the large amount of money spent by outside organizations this election cycle — $600 million according to the Wall Street Journal — which presumably were helped by major donors, Dow responds, “I think now that we’ve won these victories it’ll be easier to get the major donors to give and we’re going to absolutely try to get more of them to give.”

Trillo defends Steele’s fundraising record — the chairman raised $192 million this cycle, compared to $243 million in 2006 — by reminding NRO that Republicans held the White House during the last midterm election. “I don’t care if the major donors are complaining that they didn’t get what they wanted to get. Michael Steele is a different chairman. He was a grassroots guy. We had more small donors than we ever had before. I take a great deal of value in that. It was something that made Obama win.”

So far, Steele has drawn support mostly from smaller, bluer states. His opponents grumble that he’s directed money toward them to curry favor with his supporters, even though Republican prospects there are bleak. Asked whether Steele is maintaining support by granting favors, Trillo responds:

“I think one of the things he did do was he honored his promise to have a 50-state campaign and that included the territories. . . . In the past, the smaller states and the bluer states were totally neglected. What we were able to prove this year was that if we had more money we would have won in bluer states. We lost the congressional race and governor’s seat in Rhode Island by two points — not twenty. The big states have their big donors. They’re just moaning and groaning that they didn’t get their million dollars this year; they got cut to $800,000. I say to them, ‘Get over it.’ They’re used to dominating the party.”

National Journal is keeping a running tally of the candidates’ declared supporters — a great service to political junkies. I would add four people to Steele’s column: Dow, Trillo, Pat Longo, the committeewoman from Connecticut, and Errol Galt, the committeeman from Montana, who spoke with NRO recently. Below is Steele’s updated column, and here’s the full chart.

MICHAEL STEELE (15)

Peter Ada, Guam national committeeman

Jody Dow, Massachusetts national committeewoman

John Frey, Connecticut national committeeman

Errol Galt, Montana national committeeman,

Holly Hughes, Michigan national committeewoman

Robert Kabel, District of Columbia Party chair

Pat Longo, Connecticut national committeewoman

Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, USVI committeewoman

Holland Redfield, USVI national committeeman

Pat Rogers, New Mexico national committeeman

Herbert Schoenbohm, USVI Party chair

Norm Semanko, Idaho Party chair

Bob Tiernan, Oregan Party chair

Joseph Trillo, Rhode Island national committeeman

Betsy Werronen, District of Columbia national committeewoman

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