CHRIS MATTHEWS, LIBERAL…. Interesting concession from the MSNBC on-air talent.

Tonight on Hardball, Chris Matthews admitted to John Heilemann and Michael Scherer that he voted for newly-minted RNC Chairman Michael Steele when Steele ran for the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland against Ben Cardin in 2006.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. Steele’s enjoyed broader-than-average appeal throughout his political career, and media people, like everyone else, have to vote for someone.

Still, is it not notable that Matthews just nonchalantly tossed out that he had voted for the new chairman of the Republican Party? Would he not draw a fresh round of castigation from the right if he just up and talked about voting for Obama?

Matthews is, of course, considered by his conservative detractors as a Democratic partisan, making it odd for him to publicly declare that he supported a woefully-unqualified conservative Republican Senate candidate as recently as 2006. Indeed, Matthews thought the new RNC Chair would make a “good” senator despite having run the most shallow of campaigns, which included paying homeless people to lie to voters.

Also consider the context: in 2006, partisan control of the Senate was very much up in the air. Matthews, the “liberal,” still voted for Steele.

How odd.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.