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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Speaking of the Senate...

...apparently the race to replace Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) in 2006 just got a little bit more interesting (h/t goes to Polipundit). Word comes that Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R-MD) is on the brink of exploring a bid for Senate. He would be competing directly with (currently) two running Democratic candidates- former (scandal-ridden) NAACP prez Kweisi Mfume and Representative Ben Cardin. Odds are high that EJ Pipkin, after spending his time in 2004 getting his name out as Barbara Mikulski's opponent, will likely try to capitalize on that recognition and run again in 2006 on the Republican ticket.

Michael Steele would, in all likelihood, get the nomination on the basis of his popularity and because he'd be a historic first for Maryland - he'd be the first black Senator in the state. That is a huge deal to a lot of people in this state, much like it would be in many others. The man is a sharp thinker, and watching him speak at the Republican convention last year was very interesting. Moreover, he'd be the much more moderate answer to the Labelmaker that is Kweisi Mfume. Ben Cardin will likely put up a decent fight (and would be a much more moderate candidate to face than Mfume), like he did in his campaign for Representative, but he'll end up being crushed under the Mfume Steamroller.

Mfume, who comes from one of the most reactionary, thinly-veiled partisan groups in this country, is going to be thrown into a fit of rage when he realizes that calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" (either directly or by proxy through supporters) is not going to fly with a lot of people in Maryland. It didn't work when Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (ohmigosh, did you know she was a Kennedy?!) and her supporters (*cough* Teacher's unions *cough*) used all sorts of racial scaremongering to try and smear Steele (my personal favorite being some in the teacher union's doing the despicable act of calling Steele an "Oreo" - black on the outside, white on the inside). It was a tactic that backfired big-time on them, especially when Steele and Governor Robert Ehrlich had other prominent black public figures throwing their support behind their bid for the Governor's office.

What makes Steele so appealing is the fact that he is, in general, an appealing person. Meaning, he's someone you can identify with, someone you could somehow place as a sort of friend to you. He's an intelligent, bright thinker who isn't afraid to take someone to task for falsehoods - much like he recently did to Maryland's House Speaker over slot machine legislation. He doesn't fold in half like a piece of cardboard, offering up non-apology apologies for something that either isn't the fault of the Governor's office, or for something that doesn't exist. He's demonstrated an ability to get along well with people - something that pays off in dividends in what some call a "Moderate Democratic" state like Maryland.

Frankly, he'd be the perfect antidote to a candidate like Mfume - it only sucks that more smart men like Steele don't exist in general. Or, even more importantly, that this may mean he can't run for governor in 2010.