Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the troubled Republican National Committee, has had a busy week fending off different challenges to her authority. Naturally, McDaniel had her fair share of criticism last month after the G.O.P.’s lackluster midterm election showing, which was hampered in part by the falling popularity, pushed by the mainstream media and oh yes, Republicans, of her close partner, Donald Trump.
She was able to defeat former congressman and New York governor candidate Lee Zeldin, who had been secretly speaking with R.N.C. members and assessing his possibilities for a coup, showing that she appeared to have the upper hand in the R.N.C. contest.
In addition, McDaniel has the advantage over R.N.C. member Harmeet Dhillon, who recently said she will run against her for the position. (A third attempt by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is universally regarded as a total non-starter.)
Since her election in 2017, McDaniel’s support has waned; if she were to win a fourth term, she would become the party’s head for the longest period of time ever. Any revolt will be difficult, though, with 104 people on her side. Whatever your opinions of Ronna and the way she manages the R.N.C., she has always kept close ties with the 168 [voting members], according to a G.O.P. insider who I spoke with.
Zeldin had been advocating for the R.N.C. behind the scenes before withdrawing from the contest, citing the four New York House districts he helped turn from blue to red in the midterm elections—”four seats that handed us the majority,” as one lifelong conservative organizer put it. (A party must win 218 seats to take control of the House; the Republicans, who were projected to have a double-digit majority, actually won 221 seats, falling within the Zeldin margin of error.)
Zeldin said in his statement withdrawing from the contest that McDaniel’s re-election was “pre-baked by design.” She shouldn’t run for a fourth term, he continued. The G.O.P. has to elect new leaders soon! It’s time to bring in new blood!
Dhillon, a well-known Republican First Amendment attorney, legal adviser to Trump 2020, and R.N.C. member, is now the great MAGA hope. She had the backing of the MAGA commentator class, including Tucker Carlson, who allowed Dhillon to launch her campaign on his show, well-known activist organizations like Turning Point USA, and well-liked elected officials like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, according to Ron Coleman, a partner at Dhillon’s law firm.
Dhillon’s plan is to leverage their external influence (as well as her own social media know-how) to persuade the R.N.C. voting members to pay attention to the base even though none of them are voting members of the committee. Coleman warned me that there would be no grassroots support if Ronna were to be re-elected. People are really, really angry with her, I mean.
I questioned the G.O.P. source for some perspective, and he said that despite Dhillon’s MAGA credentials, he saw “zero threat” of McDaniel losing the election to him: “Unless Trump personally comes out and endorses her over Ronna, it’s not real.”