My piece, up at CNN:
In less than two months, members of the Republican National Committee will convene at National Harbor, just outside Washington, and select a chairman to lead the organization over the next two years.
With the midterm elections over, the race is already generating a phenomenal amount of chatter. That includes a former staffer and potential rival’s criticism of the incumbent, Michael Steele.
But often lost in all this discussion is a focus on what really matters—the personal and professional qualifications a prospective chairman must have to do the job effectively. Speculation abounds as to whether Steele will run for re-election; to date, however, he has not announced his intention to do so.
Here are the factors the group casually referred to as “the 168” will be weighing as they make their decision.
1. Fundraising chops
Simply put, the RNC’s financial requirements are so vast—and weak fundraising has proved to have such negative effects on the RNC’s ability to carry out its operations—that committee members will treat solid fundraising chops as a litmus test applicable to all candidates for the job of chairman.
Someone capable of raising $200 million in a cycle will not pass muster; the RNC needs to be able to raise closer to twice that (or more) in a presidential cycle, with much of that sum flowing from day one as a direct result of person-to-person outreach by the chairman himself.
Online fundraising is great, and should be a priority, but without a solid fundraiser-in-chief, the RNC can be little more than a bit player on the sidelines—and that won’t cut it in 2012 when the presidency as well as control of Congress is on the table.
Read the rest of the piece here.