(CNN) – Michael Steele is defending his record at the helm of the Republican National Committee, sending a memo to committee members Friday describing the past cycle as an "overwhelming success."
The five-page memo comes amidst heavy criticism from several high profile Republicans that the RNC's fundraising and get-out-the-vote prowess has floundered under Steele's leadership and declarations from some within the party that the chairman does not deserve a second term.
"I am happy to report that our efforts were an overwhelming success: because of the surge in grass roots support for the GOP, over 44 million voters turned out to cast ballots for Republican candidates in 2010," Steele writes in the letter. "That number is, by a huge margin, the highest midterm turnout for any party in any midterm election in U.S. history."
The memo essentially constitutes a direct response to that written earlier this week by ex-RNC finance director Gentry Collins, who upon resigning his post declared that the committee's fundraising and organizational efforts had far underperformed during Steele's tenure.
"Sadly, 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 in his letter, which was also sent to committee members.
Collins, an Iowa campaign veteran, wrote that the committee "allowed its major donor base to wither" and collected just $170 million this cycle compared to $243 million during the 2006 midterm cycle.
Much of the money, he wrote, came from small donations online instead of personal solicitations from the chairman.
But Steele puts a completely different spin on the fundraising numbers, saying the committee's cash haul last cycle "smashed the record for the most money collected in a midterm cycle by any political committee whose party did not control Congress."
Steele also maintains the committee has gained close to 700,000 new donors in the last two years and calls the committee's turnout operation "the most successful in history."
But that statement flies directly in the face of contentions from some Republicans, including Republican Governors' Association Chairman Haley Barbour, who blamed the RNC for a lack luster voter turnout operation that caused the other party committees to scramble in the final days before Election Day.
Collins too, in his resignation letter, said the RNC's underfunded get-out-the-vote effort this year was directly responsible for some Republican losses that were otherwise winnable.
Meanwhile, CNN's Jessica Yellin reported earlier this week that at the annual RGA gathering earlier this week, Barbour asked the 26 Republican governors and governors-elect whether they would be comfortable asking RNC committee members in their states to consider a change in RNC leadership next year. Eighty percent of the governors raised their hand. That was according to a Republican staffer who attended the meeting and asked to remain anonymous while speaking about the current RNC chair.
Steele has not publicly stated whether he will seek a second term, but is privately taking steps to do so including reaching out to trusted advisors to discuss his campaign team and strategy.
Should he run he will face at least a challenge from Michigan Republican Saul Anuzis, currently an RNC national committeeman who is among those who ran against Steele for the post in 2009.
The election for the chairmanship comes at the end of January.
- CNN's Peter Hamby and Mark Preston contributed to this report