GOP chair Steele: fire Pelosi
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09/20/10 Kate Bradshaw
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GOP US House of Representatives candidate Mike Prendergast


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele was in the Tampa Bay area today, stumping for his party’s candidates. The GOP leader took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Mainstream country music blares over the PA as Republican activists and candidates slowly file into the large, un-air-conditioned room. Parked outside of the Hillsborough Republican party headquarters is a red and white tour bus plastered with a simple message: “Fire Pelosi.” Speaking to dozens of supporters more than half an hour after the event’s scheduled start, RNC chair Michael Steele says he targets a candidate whose district lies some three thousand miles from the Sunshine State for reasons that aren’t just symbolic.

To Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s name has become synonymous with a broad spectrum of things they venomously oppose – welfare, the influence of special interests, and a massive federal deficit. Steele says electing Republicans would change the culture of corruption on Capitol Hill.

Steele isn’t the most popular national party chair the GOP has had, but here he energizes the crowd with the help of a few friends.

If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is that chamber’s Pelosi-equivalent, Republican Senate hopeful Marco Rubio would be their anti-Pelosi. Rubio isn’t at today’s rally, but a handful of local GOP contenders who want to take advantage of this election cycle’s anti-incumbent fervor do show up. Steele invites two of them on stage. These are Dennis Ross, who is running to replace Representative and prospective Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and Mike Prendergast, whose yard signs clearly spell out that he hopes to beat Representative Kathy Castor. Steele says these candidates are of a new breed of politician.

The cheering audience appears somewhat diverse in terms of age and economic background, and not exactly all-white either. Christine Worley is Hillsborough County’s voter registration chair. She says she’s confident the GOP can keep up the momentum through November Second.

Republican activist Chris Seeger is about as fired up as one can get. He says Americans are fed up with President Obama’s liberal agenda, and here is how he defines the word “liberal.”

National Committee Chair Steele says the effort to take over Congress is organic, and not by design of GOP operatives.

Calculated strategy or not, most in the political know will tell you it’s working.

Steven Tauber is a professor of political science at the University of South Florida. He says that while blaming the bad economy on Democratic leadership may pan out for the GOP, losing seats in midterm elections is actually pretty common for the party in power.

He says that while the right’s demonization of the president may seem to be doing a number on his approval rating, two years of a GOP majority might work to his advantage come 2012.

Tauber says it doesn’t hurt that Republicans are divided on RNC chair Michael Steele, whom many say is prone to gaffes.

Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele’s “Fire Pelosi” tour also stopped in St. Petersburg and Clearwater today.

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