Michael Steele is an American politician who has worked his way to become one of the foremost Republican leaders of the U.S. A native of Maryland, Steele seriously considered priesthood after his graduation and even underwent the preparations, but changed his mind just prior to his ordination. Following a degree in law and a subsequent job for a law firm, he entered into active politics with the Republican Party. His initial few years were spent in political campaigns and a breakthrough arrived when he was elected as the chairman of the ‘Maryland Republican Party’. Just two years later, with his reputation steadily rising, he was chosen to contest the general elections in Maryland and with the Party’s win, assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. This designation gave him the chance to exhibit his good oratory skills and sound judgement. On other Party members’ insistence, he ran for the U.S. Senate but was unsuccessful. He created history by winning the Chairmanship of ‘Republican National Committee’, becoming the first African-American to do so and the committee raised a record amount of funds during his term. With his impressive rise, clean image and leadership qualities, Steele has demonstrated his enormous potential in politics and continues to serve his country.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Steele was born on October 19, 1958, at an ‘Air Force Base’ in ‘Prince George's County’, Maryland, and was adopted by William and Maebell Steele when he was just an infant. In 1962, William’s death prompted Maebell to work as a laundress, instead of applying for public assistance from the government.
He spent his childhood in the Petworth neighbourhood of Washington, D.C. with his sister Monica. His mother married a truck driver named John Turner, a few years later.
He studied at ‘Archbishop Carroll Roman Catholic High School’, where he was a member of the ‘Glee Club’ and ‘National Honor Society’ and staged plays. He was chosen as president of the student council and won a scholarship to ‘John Hopkins University’, Baltimore.
He graduated with a degree in ‘International Relations’ and then joined a seminary and started his preparation to become a Catholic priest. During this time, he taught economics and world history at ‘Malvern Preparatory School’ in Pennsylvania. After three years at the seminary, he left before his ordination.
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Steele earned a degree in law at ‘Georgetown University’ in 1991 and cleared the Pennsylvania bar exam. He then worked for six years with the law firm ‘Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton’ as a ‘Corporate Securities Associate’ in Washington D.C.
In 1993, he ventured into politics and joined the Republican Party, establishing the ‘Republican Leadership Council' soon after joining. He also became chairman of the ‘Prince George's County Republican Central Committee’ and was actively involved in numerous political campaigns.
In 1997, he quit his job and formed ‘Steele Group’, his own legal consulting firm.
2000 was an important year for him, as he was elected chairman of the ‘Maryland Republican Party’, thus becoming the first African-American to chair any state Republican Party. He was also a delegate in the ‘Republican National Convention’ in Philadelphia.
In 2002, Robert Ehrlich, who was contesting for Maryland Governor, selected Steele as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor. They were up against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was running for Governor and Charles R. Larson who was running for Lieutenant Governor. Steele campaigned vigorously for the elections.
The Republicans had a narrow victory in the general elections, even though the Democrats had prevailed in Maryland for almost forty years. Steele assumed the post of Lieutenant Governor, the next year.
He received considerable national publicity when he countered President Obama’s Democratic National Convention keynote address. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 but lost to Democratic candidate Benjamin L. Cardin
In 2007, he assumed the role of chairman of ‘GOPAC’, a committee that deals with funding of electoral campaigns and trains potential candidates. The same year, he started working for ‘Dewey & LeBoeuf’, an international law firm.
He ran for the position of chairman of ‘Republican National Committee’ in 2009 and defeated candidate Dawson to become the committee’s first African-American chairman. He served in this position for two years.
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In 2010, he carried out the ‘Fire Pelosi Bus Tour’ to campaign for Republican representation at the ‘House of Representatives’. His campaign was followed by success for the Republicans as they won over 60 congressional seats and also fared well in the mid-term elections.
After completion of one term as the chairman, Steele contested the re-elections in 2011 but lost to Reince Priebus, who was elected as the chairman. Soon, he took up a job as a political analyst with MSNBC and also as a columnist for ‘The Root’, an online magazine regarding African-American culture.
During his term as a Lieutenant Governor, Steele’s image improved due to his good oratory skills, especially among African-Americans. He also took steps to reform the state’s business program for minorities and headed the commission on ‘Quality Education’ in the state.
His ‘Fire Pelosi Bus Tour’ campaign of 2010 involved a bus tour across the US for six weeks, covering forty eight states to urge Americans to vote for Republican candidates. Apart from garnering votes, the tour also served to fire-up GOP activists through Steele’s speeches.
Awards & Achievements
He was chosen as the ‘Maryland State Republican Man of the Year’ in 1995.
In 2002, for his exemplary leadership skills, he was awarded the ‘Vikki Buckley Political Leadership Award’ by ‘Black America's Political Action Committee’.
He was presented with the ‘Bethune-DuBois Institute Award’ in 2005 for his endeavours to improve the quality of education in Maryland.
Personal Life & Legacy
Steele married Andrea Derritt in 1985 and has two sons with her, Michael and Drew. He is deeply religious and regularly attends the Sunday services at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Landover Hills.
In 2009, Steele was embroiled in a squabble with another Republican, Rush Limbaugh. After Limbaugh reacted angrily to Steele’s comments on TV, Steele apologized to him.
During a gubernatorial debate in 2002, this prominent politician alleged that a few Oreo cookies were thrown towards him, suggesting a racial statement.