Republicans meet to elect new RNC chairman after lackluster midterm election results

The Republican National Committee will meet this week in Dana Point, California, to select a new chairman to lead the party’s infrastructure heading into the 2024 election cycle after the party’s disappointing performance in the midterm elections.

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Ronna McDaniel is running for her fourth term as chair of the Republican National Committee and, for the first time since former President Donald Trump named her to succeed Reince Priebus in office, she is facing a serious challenge. The contest, which can be competitive, illustrates how different wings of the Republican party believe the party should move forward after the midterms, when Republicans won a slim majority in the House but failed to swing the Senate.

Trump lawyer Harmeet Dhillon and Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell are vying to unseat McDaniel. On Wednesday, the first day of the meeting, a debate was scheduled for the presidents’ race, but McDaniel and Dhillon did not show up. Instead, Lindell debated Caroline Wren, a GOP fundraiser who supports Dhillon’s candidacy.

While Trump has said he would “let them fight,” a battery of Trump-era officials and allies — Preibus, Family Research Council Chairman Tony Perkins, and conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt — are part of the “unofficial” team for McDaniel, according to a source familiar with the chair race.

Maryland committee member David Bossie, who was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016 and is the head of the RNC debate committee in 2024, is also part of McDaniel’s “whip” team. Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway will also attend the meeting.

McDaniel heads into Friday’s voting as the favorite.

In November, 101 RNC members signed a letter saying they supported McDaniel. And he only needs 85 votes to win.

Members praised McDaniel’s work opening community centers, “working tirelessly for necessary fundraising,” and the RNC’s commitment to issues of “election integrity,” backing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election had been stolen. .

In addition to the initial 101 endorsements, McDaniel won the support of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and on Monday picked up at least two other committee member votes in Wisconsin GOP Chairman Brian Schimming and Vermont GOP Chairman Paul Dame.

But Dhillon has also won over a few members, from Republican activist Charlie Kirk, state chairmen of the Republican parties in Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington, and two notable GOP megadonors: Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and the Uline founder Richard Uihlein.

Uihlein’s wife, Elizabeth, has endorsed McDaniel.

The race has had its hostile moments. Dhillon’s supporters claimed there was a “rumor campaign” to attack her over her Sikh religion; McDaniel has denied any involvement. Dhillon suggested to the Associated Press that members who vote for “self-interest” or for McDaniel might have a “problem” the next time they run for re-election, something an RNC member characterized to CBS News as Dhillon’s “pressure “. tactic.”

States parties in Alabama, Arizona, arkansas, Louisiana and Texas all cast “no confidence” votes against McDaniel, but have no say in Friday’s RNC vote. Still, they’re indicative of some of the aggravating bases with McDaniel.

The Nebraska Republican Party steering committee voted last Saturday to support Dhillon over McDaniel.

In Florida, where Republicans saw electoral victories during the 2022 midterm elections, a “no confidence” resolution failed when not enough members showed up to form a quorum.

McDaniel comes across as a leader who has a history of uniting the different wings of the Republican Party and has built the party’s outreach to minority communities. She also argued that she has the experience with the party infrastructure that will be needed in 2024.

“My opponent has never run a state party. He’s never campaigned. It’s easy to say all these things from the outside, but when you’ve never done it, it’s really hard to run a national party in a year like this.” This is not the time to change and put it in the hands of someone who has never done those things before,” McDaniel said on the “Ruthless” podcast earlier this month.

McDaniel also reportedly told party members that he can stop Trump from creating a third party if he loses the 2024 nomination, according to the Washington Post. But McDaniel has denied those claims.

Lindell, an ardent Trump supporter who qualified to appear on the ballot, has run a quixotic campaign thus far and is not expected to gain much traction, according to Vice News.

Dhillon has pitched herself as the change in leadership needed for the Republican Party to head into the 2024 presidential cycle. “This is not about personal feelings, our personal preferences, our comfort zone, this is about doing the right thing. for the people who elected us to these positions,” he said on Fox News last Sunday.

In a letter sent to RNC members Monday, first reported by Politico, Dhillon proposed changes he would make, including auditing relationships between vendors and consultants, revamping fundraising tactics to end the use of ” hype tactics and excessive pressure on our donors” and exploring the creation of “regional offices” in battleground states, while keeping the NCR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Bill Palatucci, a New Jersey RNC committee member who supports Dhillon, said the RNC under McDaniel “has a lot of blame for not being able to win back the Senate.”

He cited the quality of Republican candidates as a major issue for the party in the midterms, saying Dhillon agreed with him that the RNC needs to be more “involved in putting up good candidates to avoid badly prepared people like Herschel Walker and Doug Mastriano.”

But the RNC is not in charge of recruiting candidates; that is a task left to other party committees, such as the Republican Governors Association or the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“A strong leader would speak, and Ronna stood idly by as Trump endorsed one loser after another,” he texted CBS News during his flight to California for the RNC meeting.

Palatucci added that the secret nature of the vote will help Dhillon pull off a surprise and that “RNC members are political professionals who will smile at you and then vote against you in private.”

Mike Kuckelman, chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, said he plans to vote for McDaniel and hopes he wins re-election. He disagreed with the criticism leveled at McDaniel after the midterm elections, saying “all levels” of the Republican Party share the responsibility.

“Part of my support for Rhonda McDaniel is a rejection of this mob mentality, that one person is somehow responsible for election losses, I just don’t buy that theory,” he said.

Kuckelman said midterm losses need to be looked at “on an individual basis” and that the RNC needs to help grassroots voters understand that “how eligible” a candidate will be in the general election should factor into their primary vote.

A Midwestern NCR member who supports McDaniel compared the challenge against her to the 15 rounds of voting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held out before securing the job.

“This idea that we need a scalp, we need to fire a leader…it’s a bit like, ‘I had a bad day at work, so I’m going to come home and kick the dog. It’s like, what’s wrong with one? What to do with the other?” they said.

“Our job is to help win presidential elections, and then do things that help the state parties. Neither the state party nor the RNC choose candidates, run campaigns or do any of those things. The idea that somehow, Kari Lake’s loss is due to Ronna being asleep on the switch, it’s just not true,” the member added.

When it comes to 2024, both McDaniel and Dhillon have pledged to remain neutral in the presidential primaries. McDaniel pushed for the breakup of the match with the Commission on Presidential Debatesdue to claims of bias with moderators and disagreements on dates.

At least one potential candidate for 2024, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, has called for a new RNC chair.

Dame, a McDaniel supporter, said the upcoming 2024 election was a factor in choosing between her and Dhillon.

“I just don’t know if we have time to wait for Harmeet to learn things, meet new people, and move on to what could be some great ideas when she just doesn’t have the track record that Ronna has,” she wrote in her endorsement of McDaniel.

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