Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has had more political comebacks than Bill Clinton, ducking calls for his head over verbal gaffes and spending issues. Each time, he seems to come back stronger in the eyes of his aides. But soon he'll have to decide if he wants to run for reelection in January or retire, something he's not expected to do.
In the meantime, several prominent Republicans like former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman have indicated they'd like to replace him, and sooner than January if needed. While Coleman appears to have some support for the job, there are many others who top Republicans would like to see in the post. And we should tell you that several Republican officials told us that since they don't expect Steele to step down or withdraw from reelection, that it wasn't worth speculating on who would replace him. Whispers has compiled the top 10 list of those on Republican ballot cards. [Click here to see a slide show of 10 people who could replace Steele.]
1. Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. He leads the list of those who might step in if Steele resigned. Coleman's name surfaced recently when several GOP pundits called on Steele to quit for calling the war in Afghanistan one "of Obama's choosing" and saying that the conflict might be unwinnable. [Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Norm Coleman]
2. Ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. While he is the darling of some Republicans, he has avoided efforts to recruit him, including as a 2012 presidential candidate. But he knows the most in the national party and would be a natural fund raiser though he'd also remind voters of his brother.
3. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He's considered one of those who might do the job part-time, mostly as a fund raiser and theme leader. He remains popular for his post-9/11 role in the Big Apple. [Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Rudy Giuliani]
4. Former GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie. He is close to former President Bush and the recent GOP team and is considered a management and fund raising whiz. However, he recently said that the only thing better than being Republican Party boss is being a former Republican Party chairman.
5. Karl Rove. Being chairman would be a natural for the former president's political right-hand-man. But he's involved in several other efforts and might be too hot to touch due to his ties to Bush. [Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Karl Rove]
6. Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State. The prominent African-American ran against Steele in the chairmanship's race and lost. But he's considered the likely front-runner in a new race.
7. Frank Donatelli. A Washington institution who is influential in the party was picked by 2008 presidential candidate Sen. John McCain to be the party's deputy. He has worked for Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole and is a regular on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, making him a good talking head for the party.
8. Former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber. Like Coleman, he is a steady politician with good organizational skills. He has a rich political and media background.
9. Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin GOP chairman who's been helping to remake the image of the RNC. He's young and energetic and close to Steele.
10. Sarah Palin. Why not? She's the voice of the Tea Party movement and the most prominent Republican figure out there. She's said she doesn't know her next move, so maybe she should park her organization at RNC. [Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Sarah Palin]