Republican Brawl: The Competitive, Combustible, and Bitter Battle for the Republican National Committee Chairmanship

A big fight for the future of the Republican Party is taking place this week in Southern California at a luxurious resort in Orange County.

The scene of the battle: the annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee (RNC), where committee members will hold a secret ballot on Friday to choose the party’s next national committee chairman.

The RNC showdown, their first closely contested presidential race in a dozen years, has escalated into a contentious family feud as the GOP decides its leadership as the party enters an election cycle in which it aims to retake the House. White and the Senate. majority and maintain its fragile control of the House. And it comes as the party seeks to bounce back from a disappointing result in November’s midterm elections and as it debates the party’s future and former President Trump’s continued influence over the Republican Party.

Ronna McDaniel, who is running for a fourth term as head of the RNC, which is unprecedented in modern times, is being challenged by Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer who is also a member of the California RNC committee and who served as legal counsel to former President Donald Trump. . Dhillon announced his candidacy to chair the RNC on Fox News Channel last month.

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McDaniel is urging stability, while Dhillon has launched an insurgent campaign stressing change is needed following the GOP’s lackluster performance in the 2022 midterms, which many in the GOP expected to be a red wave election. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who is a strong supporter of Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen, is also running while making a long-shot bid for the presidency.

McDaniel, who as chair of the Michigan Republican Party was Trump’s choice to lead the committee after he won the White House in 2016, was re-elected to the role in 2019 and 2021. She has been a prolific fundraiser for the national party during his tenure as head of the committee. . According to McDaniel’s team, the president has raised a record $1.5 billion during her tenure, traveled more than half a million miles and held more than 330 donor events.

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“Due to our party’s proven messaging and support from key stakeholders, we have experienced multiple unprecedented fundraising cycles as a committee. We cannot stop moving into 2024, and we must ensure that Republican candidates on the ballot have the resources to win,” McDaniel wrote in a recent FoxNews.com op-ed.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, listens to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speak at an election night party in Washington, DC on November 8, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

But the GOP’s electoral setbacks in November, when Republicans failed to win back the Senate and lost key gubernatorial races, as well as in 2018, when the party lost its majority in the House, and in 2020, when it lost control of the Senate and the White Party. House, it all came about under McDaniel’s watch, prompting calls for a change in leadership.

“As a party, we have a responsibility to fix what is wrong in order to win elections. This is politics. This is about winning and losing elections. And since we have lost in three successive election cycles, we must change or we will.” going to lose in the next few election cycles,” Dhillon said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

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Dhillon said, “We need to focus almost exclusively on making sure our Republican voters’ ballots get to the polls by all legal means as early in the process as possible and not leave things to chance. We need to stop wasting Republicans’ money. donors”. and really focus on spending it well. And we really need to be very clear and concise in our messaging.”

McDaniel, defending his record in a recent Fox News Digital interview, said that “what the RNC has done has made that election better than it could have been.”

“Under my watch,” McDaniel said, “they’ve seen a rise in Republican turnout. They’ve seen us invest in things like voter registration, where we made big profits in states like North Carolina, Florida, Iowa. Our centers Community efforts were a value-add this election cycle as we saw that engagement with Hispanic, Asian and Black voters actually had a higher turnout in the areas in which we invested.”

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On Tuesday, after landing in California, McDaniel visited one such community center in the Orange County city of Westminster.

These community centers and bringing in people who have never been Republican, who have never been part of our party, and having them open year-round is going to make the biggest difference,” McDaniel said. “Because we’re not just showing up for an election to vote . We’re saying we’re committed to your community for the long haul and we want to earn your vote because we’re here.”

And McDaniel argued that Dhillon and his other critics don’t understand what the job of RNC president really entails.

But Dhillon, in her interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, said that “we’ve failed and we’ve failed. So, I’ll change all that if I become the chair of the Republican National Committee.”

Disputes and accusations, both public and private, have become intense in the past two months, with both sides accusing the other of bullying tactics as they have repeatedly come up with significant endorsements.

The three candidates will make their cases separately to the 168 RNC committee members who are eligible to vote for president in a forum beginning Wednesday at the winter meeting, which this year will be held in Dana Point, California. The secret ballot for president by committee members will take place on Friday, the last day of the RNC meeting.

McDaniel, in an interview last month with Fox News Digital, described his support as “pretty solid,” touting a list he published a few weeks earlier that included the endorsement of more than 100 RNC committee members, which would far exceed the simple majority. of the 168 members needed to win re-election.

But Dhillon has repeatedly questioned the steadiness of McDaniel’s publicized support as he courts MAGA hardliners and Trump never-reachers who share a common interest in replacing McDaniel. And in recent weeks, several state GOP chapters have passed no-confidence votes against McDaniel.

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While he has not released his own list of endorsements from RNC committee members, Dhillon said Tuesday that “I feel good about my chances to run in the election.”

But the secret ballot means that no one is sure of the final result.

“Anyone who has been through multiple RNC elections realizes that you really never know how RNC members will vote on a secret ballot. This could go either way,” a veteran RNC committee member, who asked to stay on anonymity to speak more freely. , he told Fox News.

Pointing to McDaniel’s list of endorsements, the committee member said, “You have to understand that Ronna asked the NCR members to publicly endorse her and sign a letter in November. What are the NCR members going to say?” She’s in control of the bag. They’ll be inclined to say yes. It’s safe to say that some of those who signed in November may be really soft now and have possibly slipped.”

Mike Lindell speaks at an RNC Chairman's debate in Dana Point, California, on Wednesday.

Mike Lindell speaks at an RNC Chairman’s debate in Dana Point, California, on Wednesday.
(FoxNews)

But virtually no one believes that Lindell has a chance of winning.

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“Mike Lindell wanting to run the Republican Party is like me wanting to run his pillow company just because I sleep on a pillow at night,” said another RNC committee member who also requested anonymity.

Lindell, Dhillon and McDaniel all have healthy ties to Trump. But the former president, who remains the most influential politician in the Republican Party, has remained neutral in the presidential race. And sources in Trump’s political orbit say they don’t expect the former president to make a last-minute endorsement.

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