Who had the worst week in Washington? Michael Steele.

By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Michael Steele and the Worst Week in Washington have been eyeing each other for months.

But each time the Republican National Committee chairman committed a verbal gaffe or a fundraising scandal broke at the RNC, there was always someone or something that managed to edge him out of the winner's circle.

This week, the man and the moment have finally met. And it's all because of a man named Gentry.

That's Gentry Collins, who until Tuesday was the political director at the RNC. Collins, a mild-mannered Iowan known as an effective if low-profile political operative, decided to accompany his resignation with a withering four-page letter detailing the problems with Steele's two-year tenure atop the party.

"If left on its current path, the RNC will not be a productive force in the 2012 campaign to deny President Obama a second term, retain our House majority, and elect a Senate majority,"Collins wrote.

(Left unsaid in Collins's missive? That he is weighing his own bid for the RNC chairmanship.)

The letter opened the floodgates for Steele's critics - and they are legion - to take their doubts about him public. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a force within the party and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said Steele should be replaced. Even Steele allies, such as Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady, began to turn on him.

Steele's term as RNC chairman runs out in January, and the rise of such public enemies and friends turned foes gives his hopes for a second term a decidedly quixotic feel.

Michael Steele, for watching your reelection chances disappear in a flurry of keystrokes by a senior staffer, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com with your nominees.

Can't remember who won the Worst Week last week?

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