- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

Michael S. Steele, the beleaguered head of the Republican Party, will name his chief of staff Thursday and announce his choices for other key positions beginning Friday, The Washington Times has learned.

Ken McKay, 42, a practicing attorney who was chief of staff to former Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri from 2003 to 2006, will serve as Mr. Steele’s chief of staff.

Mr. McKay will be the man in charge of making the trains run on time at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters. The RNC raised and dispensed nearly $100 million in the 2007-2008 election cycle to help elect Republicans at federal and state levels.

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Insiders have said the organization has been “rudderless” since Mr. Steele, 51, took over as chairman at the end of January. Staff positions have gone unfilled since the former Maryland lieutenant governor won the chairmanship after a five-way election that was not decided until the sixth round of balloting.

Mr. McKay is the pick of Curt Anderson, a longtime GOP operative who came up through the RNC and is Mr. Steele’s top consultant, working on a contract rather than salaried RNC-employee basis.

Running a successful campaign in the tiny state is regarded in the consultant community as a modest achievement.

Conservatives did not regard Mr. Carcieri as one of their own and he did not attempt to run as one.

Mr. Steele’s choice for communications director the person expected to help Mr. Steele stick to an agreed-upon message and avoid the gaffes that recently have plagued him is expected to be named in the coming days. Also awaiting announcement are the persons who will head the committee’s crucial technology modernization and serve as finance head.

Mr. Steele, the first black national chairman in GOP history, won election in large part because he was thought to be the most able spokesman for his party by being comfortable in front of a TV camera, despite some of his social stances.

Mr. Steele has close associations with Republicans, such as Christine Todd Whitman, who favors a woman’s right to choose an abortion and favors same-sex unions short of marriage, a distinction lost on many of the GOP’s anti-abortion core voters. The Republican national platform long has called for a constitutional ban on abortion and more recently on same-sex marriage.

News of the appointments of the Steele management teams is expected to elbow aside the negative news Mr. Steele has been generating about himself, making himself the news rather than the failing economy and missteps by Democrats.

Next week, final reports by three transition committee teams tasked with making reorganization recommendations are expected to be made public.

The selection of Mr. McKay and the other staff members came after the review of more than 100 resumes from applicants from around the country and dozens of interviews, Mr. Steele told The Washington Times.

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