A Future All-Star

One of the secrets to the long—term fortunes of any successful sports franchise is that they consistently develop new home—grown talent from within their organization. While teams can and do achieve momentary triumph by acquiring a high—priced free agent on a one—year contract, historically the teams with the best records have the habit of developing new talent with an eye to the future, instead of emptying their coffers in a frenzied, frantic attempt to win it all immediately.

There is a prime prospect on the national Republican team that has tremendous potential to be a future all—star at the major league level: Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele.

Michael Steele is a particularly interesting study. He was the first African—American elected to a Maryland statewide office and the first Republican Lt. Governor of Maryland. According to his official website,

'His top priorities include improving the quality of Maryland's public education system, where he currently chairs the Governor's Commission on Quality Education; reforming the state's Minority Business Enterprise program; expanding economic development and international trade; and fostering cooperation between government and community—based organizations to help those in need.'

Heady mainstream stuff indeed, and essentially impervious to Democrat/minority criticism.

Steele has an all—American résumé: an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University in International Relations, a law degree from Georgetown, and several political committee chairmanships prior to being Lt. Governor. He is articulate, good—looking and so utterly normal in every way that his appeal to the casual voter—across both gender and racial boundaries—will be unmistakable.

The country got its first real glimpse of Steele's talent during the Republican national convention last September. Although not showcased in a headliner's speaking role like Schwarzenegger, Giuliani or McCain, Steele nonetheless came up big with a well—delivered address in his first shot out of the gate. He served notice—to all Democratic strategists watching, especially—that a potential new political force was emerging, one that opponents will need to take seriously in the future.

In 2006, liberal Democratic Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes is retiring. The likely Democratic nominee to fill his open seat will be either state Congressman Ben Cardin or ex—NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Mfume is better known nationally than Cardin, but he has somewhat of an uphill battle to win the nomination, both from traditionally low minority voter turnout in the primaries and his alleged multiple Jesse Jackson—like 'indiscretions' during his NAACP tenure. If he does win the Democratic nod, he will have to contend with his own on—the—record statements aligning himself with NAACP leader Julian Bond's over—the—top incendiary remarks, including his equating of Republicans with the Taliban.

In truth, Steele will not be favored to win his contest in 2006, yet he has the opportunity to make a major impression on the national political scene. If he runs an intelligent campaign and presents himself in a dynamic, coherent, well—organized fashion, then Steele will have graduated into the big leagues of public consciousness. This bodes well for the Republican Party's future prospects, since having an additional well—known, articulate, vibrant player—an African—American no less—strengthens their team roster considerably.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.

One of the secrets to the long—term fortunes of any successful sports franchise is that they consistently develop new home—grown talent from within their organization. While teams can and do achieve momentary triumph by acquiring a high—priced free agent on a one—year contract, historically the teams with the best records have the habit of developing new talent with an eye to the future, instead of emptying their coffers in a frenzied, frantic attempt to win it all immediately.

There is a prime prospect on the national Republican team that has tremendous potential to be a future all—star at the major league level: Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele.

Michael Steele is a particularly interesting study. He was the first African—American elected to a Maryland statewide office and the first Republican Lt. Governor of Maryland. According to his official website,

'His top priorities include improving the quality of Maryland's public education system, where he currently chairs the Governor's Commission on Quality Education; reforming the state's Minority Business Enterprise program; expanding economic development and international trade; and fostering cooperation between government and community—based organizations to help those in need.'

Heady mainstream stuff indeed, and essentially impervious to Democrat/minority criticism.

Steele has an all—American résumé: an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University in International Relations, a law degree from Georgetown, and several political committee chairmanships prior to being Lt. Governor. He is articulate, good—looking and so utterly normal in every way that his appeal to the casual voter—across both gender and racial boundaries—will be unmistakable.

The country got its first real glimpse of Steele's talent during the Republican national convention last September. Although not showcased in a headliner's speaking role like Schwarzenegger, Giuliani or McCain, Steele nonetheless came up big with a well—delivered address in his first shot out of the gate. He served notice—to all Democratic strategists watching, especially—that a potential new political force was emerging, one that opponents will need to take seriously in the future.

In 2006, liberal Democratic Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes is retiring. The likely Democratic nominee to fill his open seat will be either state Congressman Ben Cardin or ex—NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Mfume is better known nationally than Cardin, but he has somewhat of an uphill battle to win the nomination, both from traditionally low minority voter turnout in the primaries and his alleged multiple Jesse Jackson—like 'indiscretions' during his NAACP tenure. If he does win the Democratic nod, he will have to contend with his own on—the—record statements aligning himself with NAACP leader Julian Bond's over—the—top incendiary remarks, including his equating of Republicans with the Taliban.

In truth, Steele will not be favored to win his contest in 2006, yet he has the opportunity to make a major impression on the national political scene. If he runs an intelligent campaign and presents himself in a dynamic, coherent, well—organized fashion, then Steele will have graduated into the big leagues of public consciousness. This bodes well for the Republican Party's future prospects, since having an additional well—known, articulate, vibrant player—an African—American no less—strengthens their team roster considerably.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.