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Republican National Chairman Michael Steele's adversaries on the Republican National Committee have mounted what one Steele defender describes as "a hostile attempt to embarrass and neuter the chairman."

The effort, by the RNC's treasurer and several respected former party officers, appears designed to force Steele to make good on his campaign promise to impose new checks and balances on the hiring of outside consultants.

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Amid the latest debris for the party--the defection of Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democrats and the loss of the upstate New York congressional seat that Steele and others had been heavily invested in winning---the latest contretemps may not seem like much.

But it's a new sign that Steele has still not calmed the internal upheaval that followed his election in January.Details of the latest challenge, reported by the redoubtable Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times, can be found here.

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Steele, who is in the midst of a coast-to-coast fundraising swing, has kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks. That has helped calm much of the negative publicity that rocked national party headquarters back in the late winter.

The internal challenge for control of the organization's purse strings is evidence that Steele has not yet convinced his rivals on the RNC that he is up to the job. And that's more bad news for a party that's already bumping along at its lowest point in decades.

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