Ronna McDaniel to Vacate RNC Chair in March After Pressure From Trump

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(Bloomberg) -- Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is leaving the party’s top leadership role after weeks of pressure from former President Donald Trump.

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McDaniel, who has been at the helm of the RNC since 2017, said in a statement she will step down March 8 at an RNC meeting in Houston, Texas. She has come under scrutiny in recent months for a slew of losses in recent elections and lackluster fundraising figures. Her departure allows Trump, the party’s presidential frontrunner, to install a loyalist in the position as he tightens control over the Republican party.

“The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee and it has always been by intention to honor that tradition,” she said in a statement Monday. “I remain committed to winning back the White House and electing Republicans up and down the ballot in November.”

The former president has endorsed his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, a former television producer, to be co-chair along with Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, who has boosted Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has also floated the idea of a top official from his campaign, Chris LaCivita, joining the RNC to run day-to-day operations so that the national party is well-coordinated with Trump’s political team.

He also suggested in his South Carolina primary victory speech suggested that he may tap former White House aide Kellyanne Conway for an additional role at the RNC.

Bringing in his close allies would all but complete Trump’s control of the Republican campaign apparatus.

Both Lara Trump and Whatley are both North Carolina natives. Democrats consider the state as a possible battleground in the November presidential election.

The RNC raised $87 million in 2023 and ended the year with $8 million cash on hand — trailing heavily the Democratic National Committee’s $120 million in fundraising and $20 million on hand at the end of the year.

Trump’s campaign ended the year with $33 million and has a fraction of the cash Biden has raised in coordination with the broader Democratic party. Both parties are expected to spend heavily this year on what is expected to be a close presidential race and over control of Congress.

Financial woes could crop up in 2024 for Republicans, particularly as Trump continues to spend heavily on his legal defense related to four pending criminal trials. His political operation is on track to run out of money that can easily be used for legal costs mid-year, meaning that he will need to raise more from donors or rely on the party to cover the expenses, which would siphon off money for campaigns.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s sole remaining challenger for the nomination, has blamed Trump for the Republican Party’s recent losses, stating that “chaos” follows his campaign and has proposed overhauls to the RNC. Her campaign manager Betsy Ankney has said that Haley’s plan would include firing the entire staff and a formal application process “based on merit, not on back scratching.”

--With assistance from Bill Allison.

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