- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

The spokesman for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele’s campaign for U.S. Senate resigned Thursday night, the second senior staffer to leave the campaign this month.

Lenny Alcivar, who had worked in public relations for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Department of Transportation, resigned as communications director amid rumors about tension between Mr. Steele’s legislative and campaign staffs.

Sources said national Republican staffers on the campaign are being kept at arm’s length from Mr. Steele by those on his legislative staff.

Legislative staff blamed campaign staff for having a reporter at a speech to the Baltimore Jewish Council last week where Mr. Steele voiced his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research by linking it to the Holocaust. Mr. Steele has since apologized.

Mr. Steele’s chief of staff, Paul Ellington, did return a phone call.

Mr. Steele’s campaign manager, Graham Shafer, left a few weeks ago, citing a need to spend more time with his wife and three children. Mr. Shafer is from Anne Arundel County but had worked for the RNC for years before joining Mr. Steele’s campaign.

Mr. Steele did not respond to questions about internal problems, but thanked Mr. Alcivar for his service and promoted Melissa Sellers from deputy communications director to Mr. Alcivar’s job.

“I remain focused on working to bring the voice of Marylanders to the U.S. Senate, and am honored to have so much momentum and support behind the campaign as we continue to grow,” Mr. Steele said.

Mr. Alcivar declined to comment.

“It’s always transient, but the campaign is about candidates, not staff,” said Dan Ronayne, a Maryland native with the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. “And Michael Steele is very well positioned to win this race.” RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman was in Hawaii and could not be reached for comment.

A source close to the campaign said Mr. Steele has given legislative staff most of the control over his time and schedule because he does not want it to be controlled by national Republicans.

Tension often occurs between legislative and campaign staffs when an incumbent runs for office, said James G. Gimpel, a government professor at the University of Maryland.

“There is one staff that is trying to build upon and improve the record, and the other staff is trying to get him out there in front of the voters,” he said.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane said he was unaware of such a “power struggle.” “I think it’s just the ebb and flow of a campaign,” he said.

Derek Walker, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said Mr. Steele’s “campaign is in disarray.” “They’re kind of stuck in the middle of a lot of competing interests, internally and externally,” he said.

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