Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy’s name is being floated as a contender for the position of National Party Chairman despite telling The Hanging Shad just four months ago that he was “fully supportive” of current chairman Michael Steele.
The story of Healy possibly contending for the national post exploded after his name was mentioned by the Roll Call, Associated Press and the Washington Post. The Shad has always seen Healy as an effective (to the extent that’s possible in such a blue state), smart, witty and media savvy party boss. He has also done nothing to discourage the speculation.
The Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog reports, “In a whirlwind 24 hours, Healy’s candidacy has grown from a behind-the-scenes, back-room whispering campaign to a full-blown public race. As a nearly four-year member of the national committee through his state chairmanship, Healy already knows many of the 168 national members — and he would need 85 votes to oust embattled, outspoken Chairman Michael Steele.”
“A number of people on the committee, which is where it counts, urged me to think about running,” Healy told CW. “We need to create a real national Republican army. The record does not indicate that the Steele team can do it. At some point, you have to come out and say the emperor has no clothes.”
But those comments differ greatly from what Healy told The Shad back in July. The Hanging Shad published a story about Connecticut National Republican Party members’ support for Steele in the wake of controversial comments Steele made during an early campaign tour of Connecticut. Healy joined Steele on the tour. “This was a war [Afghanistan] of Obama’s choosing,” Steel said at a fundraiser in Groton July 1st. “This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” Steele eventually walked back the comments.
Yet in a follow-up interview with The Hanging Shad, Healy said all three National GOP Committee members from Connecticut including himself, were firmly behind Steele (the other members are John Frey and Patricia Longo). “We’re supportive. He’s [Steele] done his job.”
That controversy was a main source of discontent with Steele by leading Republicans. What has changed for Healy since July isn’t clear and on the surface subsequent events would seem to solidify support for Steele and not Healy. On Steele’s watch, Republicans rode a tidal wave of success nationally picking up enough seats in the midterm elections to take control of the House and gain in the Senate. But that wave never reached Connecticut. On Healy’s watch, every congressional race went to Democrats as did the open seats for governor and US Senate. Republicans won a nominal number of seats in the state House and one in the state Senate. The numbers don’t seem to add up to a Healy run for RNC chair.
However, numbers don’t tell the whole story. Steele is adequate on television and usually says the right things. Healy, on the other hand, approaches dynamic on TV and usually buries his opponent in debates. Maybe that’s what the RNC is looking for.