Both the Democratic and Republican National Committees are likely to have new leadership next year.
Former Democratic Governor Howard Dean of Vermont is stepping down, having completely recovered from his unfortunate reputation as an erratic and wildly liberal 2004 presidential contender. As chairman of the DNC, he adopted a controversial "50-state strategy" that had the party pouring resources into states it normally didn't contest. His strategy paid off this year as Barack Obama won such states as Indiana and Virginia that had not voted Democratic at the presidential level since Barry Goldwater's landslide loss in 1964.
Unknown yet is whom Mr. Dean's replacement will be, but it's certainly going to be someone President-elect Obama will have confidence in -- campaign manager David Plouffe comes to mind.
On the Republican side, the jockeying to replace current GOP Chairman Mike Duncan has begun. Mr. Duncan has been a competent administrator and fundraiser but the widely perceived need for new blood in the wake of the party's second consecutive drubbing at the polls makes him unlikely to be re-elected.
Several candidates are lining up to replace him. Michigan GOP State Chairman Saul Anuzis is actively campaigning on a platform of reinvigorating the party's grass roots and returning to basic conservative principles. South Carolina Party Chairman Kalton Dawson is touting his fundraising abilities as he rounds up votes among fellow RNC members.
But several insiders believe the next RNC chairman must have some star power and an ability to get on national talk shows at a time when the new Obama administration will dominate media coverage. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, now chairman of the GOPAC conservative training academy, is allowing friends to make calls on his behalf. Mr. Steele is already a fixture on cable TV news shows and well known in Washington D.C. conservative circles.
But some Republicans are touting someone with an even bigger media profile -- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Mr. Gingrich's personal attorney, told the Washington Times this week. "If it does, Newt's the one."
While it sounds implausible, many Republicans think a return of Mr. Gingrich to the national stage would be the jolt of energy the party needs. They point out that many were also skeptical that Howard Dean could sublimate his ego enough to become a successful party leader -- a worry clearly now proven wrong in Mr. Dean's case.