Michael S. Steele was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee in January 2009. Previously he headed the conservative grassroots organization GOPAC. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 2003 through 2007.
Steele was the first African American elected to statewide office in Maryland when he was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2002, and is the first black GOP national chairman.
Steele welcomes conservatives and Tea Partiers to the Republican Party, more than some RINOs and others would like. In his book, Steele compares the GOP under Bush to an alcoholic, and argues that grass-roots activism will return the party to its core conservative values of limited government, fiscal restraint and a strong national defense. He has encouraged the heated Tea Party protests that RINOs worry could lead to their own defeat.
Many of the criticisms of Steele are insubstantial and unjustified. For example, Steele was giving paid speeches, which sparked criticism by three former RNC chairmen. Others complained about blunt talk by Steele in his new book.
Steele was born October 19, 1958 in Maryland. In 1981, he received a bachelor's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. After considering becoming a Catholic priest and spending three years at the Order of St. Augustine seminary, he received a law degree when he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991. From 1991 through 1997 he was a corporate securities attorney at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C., specializing in sophisticated financial transactions on behalf of Wall Street underwriters. He also was a corporate finance counsel for the Mills Corporation and founded his own company, The Steele Group, a business and legal consulting firm.
In late 2000, Steele was elected Chair of the Maryland Republican Party and in 2002, he was elected as Maryland's Lieutenant Governor. He ran for Senate in 2006 against Democrat Ben Cardin but lost with 44% of the vote compared to Cardin's 54%. After his loss, he was thought to be a leading candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, but Florida Senator Mel Martinez was picked instead.
Steele serves on the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and is a member of St. Marys Catholic Church in Landover Hills, MD, where he attends mass regularly with his wife Andrea and their two sons. His essays on law, business and politics have appeared in The Washington Times, Politico.com, Townhall.com, and The Journal of International Security Affairs, among others.
According to one recent report, under Steele's leadership, the Republican Party has had serious trouble raising funds for the 2010 midterm elections: "When Steele was elected, the RNC had $22 million and no debt. At the end of November (2009), it had less than $9 million, which is a pittance of what the RNC possessed going into the midterms of 2002 and 2006." 
- Philip Rucker and Chris Cillizza, "Steele's book release, fiery rhetoric fuel dissatisfaction within GOP," Washington Post Jan. 9, 2010
- Maryland State Archives, "LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: MICHAEL S. STEELE, Lt.Governor (Republican)"
- Washington Post, "Election Profile - U.S. Senate, Maryland"
- Washington Post, Matthew Mosk and Ann E. Marimow, November 9, 2006, "Governor and U.S. Senate Losses Just the Tip of State GOP Collapse"
- Washingtonpost.com's Politics Blog, Chris Cillizza, November 8, 2006, "Michael Steele for Republican NationalChairman?"
- Washington Post, Jim VandeHei, November 14, 2006, "Florida Senator Will Be a Top RNC Officer"