RNC’s Ronna McDaniel declares ‘this is my last term as chair’
‘This is my last term as chair. I’m saying it on Fox News. It’s done,’ McDaniel declared Friday in an exclusive interview with Fox News.
Minutes earlier, McDaniel won the support of 111 committee members who cast ballots in a secret ballot vote for chair, more than the majority of the 168 members needed to secure re-election. The vote took place on the final day of the RNC’s winter meeting, which was held this year at a luxury seaside resort in Southern California’s Orange County.
McDaniel topped her main challenger, RNC committee member from California Harmeet Dhillon, who won the support of 51 committee members. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump’s repeated re-litigating of the 2020 presidential election and who ran a long shot bid for chair, received only four votes.
McDaniel, who as Michigan GOP chair was Trump’s handpicked choice to steer the committee after he won the White House in 2016, was re-elected to the post in 2019 and 2021. McDaniel urged stability while Dhillon, who served as a top Trump legal adviser, ran an insurgent campaign stressing that change was needed following the Republican Party’s lackluster performance in the 2022 midterms, which many in the GOP expected to be a red wave election.
‘I know how hard it is to ramp up with a new chair. I wanted to keep that consistency,’ McDaniel emphasized. ‘We’ve made a lot of changes in my tenure with voter registration, minority outreach. The things that we’ve done have been historic. We need to continue that and do that in this next election. And then I’m happily going to pass the gavel to somebody else.’
McDaniel has been a prolific fundraiser for the national party during her tenure leading the committee. But the GOP electoral setbacks in November during McDaniel’s tenure, such as the Republicans failing to win back the Senate and losing key gubernatorial races, as well as in 2018 when the party lost the House majority and in 2020 when it lost control of the Senate and the White House, sparked calls for a change of leadership.
Dhillon, speaking with reporters after her defeat, pointed what she touted was her support from the grassroots of the party, and had a warning for the RNC:
‘If we go back to our homes and ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.’
Asked about those comments, McDaniel argued in her Fox News interview that ‘I think the grassroots has been fed some misinformation from her campaign, and we’re going to reach out to them.’
‘I’m going to go on a grassroots tour. I would love for her [Dhillon] to come with me. I want other leaders in our party to come with me,’ she emphasized. ‘But they don’t always understand what the RNC does. And that’s our job to go out. But we love the grassroots. We appreciate them. We need them to go knock doors and be poll watchers. And I’m going to be traveling the country, getting them ready for beating the Democrats because we can only do that united.’
McDaniel pledged to reach out and call Dhillon and Lindell, adding that ‘my whole campaign for this election has been unity. We need all of us. We need addition, not subtraction. And we can’t fight each other so much that we don’t recognize that we’ve got to beat the Democrats. So that’s what I’m going to do as leader of this party. I’m going to reach out to both of them.’
Asked about any specific leadership role going forward for Dhillon, who has two years left in her term as an RNC committee member, McDaniel said ‘we haven’t discussed anything like that.’
The RNC showdown, the party’s first hotly contested chair race in a dozen years, became a contentious family feud as the GOP decided its leadership. The drama unfolded as the party jumps into an election cycle seeking to win back the White House, regain the Senate majority and hold its fragile control of the House. It also came as the party aims to rebound from November’s disappointing results and as it debates its future and Trump’s continued grip over the GOP.
McDaniel, who touted in November that she had the support of over 100 committee members, said, ‘I felt like I had strong support from the committee because they really want to keep the consistency of the things we’ve done, voter registration, election integrity. And they know it’s such a pivotal time heading into a president presidential election. So they wanted to keep that, but they understand we’re going to bring change.’