Steele was elected as Maryland's Lieutenant Governor in 2002 despite the fact that a Republican had not been elected to the State's executive office in close to 40 years. As Lieutenant Governor Steele focused on reforming the state’s Minority Business Enterprise program and chairing Governor Ehrlich’s Commission on Quality Education in Maryland.
Steele has established himself within the Republican Party as a strong public speaker and he was selected to deliver the counter speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention against then Senator, Barack Obama. Steele ran for a vacant U.S. Senate seat in Maryland in 2006 but was defeated by the Democrat opponent.
The election of Michael Steele as the chairman of the RNC is a positive step forward to rebuilding the GOP's image across the United States. The Republican Party is often criticized for not being representative of African Americans and other minority groups. An African American now leads the entire Party and African Americans may be more inclined to identify with the Party. Steele was also a critic of many of President Bush's policies and actively spoke against the Iraq War, often times referring to the initial phases of the War as a failure. Steele was also a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's handling of hurricane Katrina. Steele's willingness to speak out against Republican mistakes and view-points may show Democrats and Independents that Republicans are willing to compromise on issues and learn from past mistakes.
The emergence of Michael Steele as the chairman of the RNC may be the first step to rebuilding the GOP.