If I had to call it, Mike Duncan is the front runner for election at RNC Chairman. No bones about it. Whether you might like it or not, Duncan is the guy to beat. The majority of the 168 men and women who will vote, like him and think he can do even better without having to stand in Bush's shadow.
I talked to Mike Duncan on Monday. We weren't really talking about his race. He said he was going to make an announcement today, but I knew which way he'd choose.
My first question was about these latest elections. The GOP has done surprisingly well without Obama's name on the ballot and, frankly, did not do too terribly in some places with Obama's name on the ballot. Duncan said, "It just means Republicans haven't forgotten how to win elections." Though the November elections were bad, Duncan thinks there were three big factors at play against the GOP simultaneously: (1) head wins were blowing against them with the war and economy, (2) most parties do not hold the White House for a third terms, and (3) the historic nature of the election.
Those won't be factors in 2010.
I did ask Duncan how he sees his role, independent of whether or not he did decide to run again. He said the GOP needs to take a breath and listen. Accountability, he said, was key.
As for goals: solid recruitment, to Duncan, is key. He is mindful that candidates must fit their districts. "We cannot give up on Republican ideas," he told me, "but candidates will match up differently in each district." I took this to mean — and he is right — that a Jim DeMint could not win Massachusetts and a Rudy Giuliani could not win South Carolina. We have to be conscious of local issues and local values.
I asked him what things he wanted people to take away from both the November election and the December runoffs. He said, "Our programs work" and "Obama does not translate to other candidates."