GOP to vote Friday on McDaniel, Dhillon, Lindell as new RNC chief
Republican National Committee (RNC) members will elect a new chair of the party on Friday, ending a race that has seen Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s leadership tested by two rivals.
McDaniel, who has led the RNC since being tapped by former President Trump to the role in 2016, is being challenged by Harmeet Dhillon — a legal adviser to Trump’s 2020 campaign — and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
RNC members will cast secret ballots on Friday in Dana Point, Calif., where McDaniel needs a simple majority of the committee’s 168 members to secure another stint as chairwoman.
McDaniel is the favorite to win another term, but the challenge from Dhillon has been stronger than expected after the GOP suffered what many in the party see as another disappointing election season in November.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron. DeSantis (R) plunged into the race, saying the RNC needed “new blood” and offering favorable comments for Dhillon.
While all three RNC candidates are somewhat tied to Trump, the DeSantis move puts a new 2024 overtone on the fight.
DeSantis and Trump are widely seen as the two GOP front-runners for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
Here’s a look at the three candidates.
McDaniel has led the RNC since 2017, after being hand-picked by Trump. She is now seeking a rare fourth term as the leader of the party.
The former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, McDaniel has led the party through election seasons in which it failed to win the House in 2018, lost the presidency and both chambers of Congress in 2020 and then failed to win a Senate majority and secured only a razor-thin House advantage in 2022.
McDaniel, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), ran the RNC while Trump was president. She dropped the “Romney” from her name when she became RNC chairwoman in 2017, making her just the second woman to ever hold the position.
She is one of the longest-serving RNC chairs ever. Other than Reince Priebus, who served for six years, she has held the spot longer than anyone else in the past 100 years. If she clinches a fourth term, she would be the longest-serving chair since the start of the 20th century.
Republican leadership has largely steered clear of weighing in on the race. Trump has not formally endorsed any candidate, saying in December that he liked both McDaniel and Dhillon. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has avoided wading into the race. But in an interview on Thursday, DeSantis praised Dhillon ahead of her contest against McDaniel,
“I think we need a change, I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC,” DeSantis said in an interview with Florida’s Voice. “I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of D.C. … We need some fresh thinking.”
Critics of McDaniel have called for party leaders to better communicate their policy platform and to construct a stronger strategy for winning elections.
But McDaniel is still seen as the favorite and has said that she believes she has enough support to win the race in recent weeks.
An endorsement letter that circulated earlier this month showed that more than 100 current RNC members planned to support the incumbent, which would give her more than enough votes to win the election. She has also garnered the public support of more than 150 GOP donors.
Dhillon is a California attorney who was a legal adviser for Trump’s 2020 campaign. The former vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party has launched a surprisingly staunch campaign against McDaniel.
Dhillon, an ardent Trump supporter, has pitched herself as a candidate that would shake up the party’s fortunes after successive election disappointments. She has made fighting for “election integrity” one of the main platforms of her candidacy as well, after she represented Trump during the House select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Dhillon also has said that she will spend donor money more responsibly.
And she has picked up the support of a number of state Republican parties. The parties in Nebraska and Washington have endorsed her for the top spot. The Texas and Alabama GOP have also called for new leadership, saying they would not support McDaniel.
Lindell has been one of the leading and loudest voices boosting the conspiracy theory that there was mass fraud in the 2020 election that led to Trump’s loss. But his campaign to become RNC chairman has not picked up much steam.
To date, Lindell has only publicly picked up the endorsement of one RNC member, according to Vice.
Lindell has focused his RNC campaign around protecting election “integrity.” He’s latched onto the failed push by former Republican governor candidate Kari Lake in Arizona to overturn the election results in the state.
Lindell’s campaign, though, is viewed as more of an afterthought to the showdown between McDaniel and Dhillon.
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