RNC Chair Fights for Reelection 01/27 06:14
DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) -- Republican National Committee Chair Ronna
McDaniel is fighting for reelection in a bitter leadership feud that's testing
former President Donald Trump's grip on his own "Make America Great Again"
The high-profile contest to lead the GOP through the 2024 presidential
election will be decided Friday afternoon in a secret vote at the committee's
winter meeting in Southern California.
The former president is privately backing McDaniel, whom he picked for the
job after his victory in 2016. But rebel factions inside his own MAGA movement
have lined up behind her challenger, Trump attorney Harmeet Dhillon.
Dhillon has waged an aggressive challenge against McDaniel that featured
allegations of chronic misspending, mismanagement and even religious bigotry
against Dhillon's Sikh faith -- all claims that McDaniel has denied. Above all,
the case against McDaniel, a niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, has been focused
on conservative frustration with repeated election losses on her watch.
The vote comes as the Republican Party struggles to unify behind a message
or a messenger as the 2024 presidential season begins. Similar divisions
plagued the House GOP's dayslong fight to elect a House speaker earlier in the
month. And on Friday, those same forces are threatening to derail McDaniel's
bid to become the longest-serving RNC chair since the Civil War.
Ahead of Friday's vote, Dhillon cited the Republican base's overwhelming
desire for change and threatened political retribution for the RNC members who
dared support McDaniel's reelection.
"Ignoring the will of the voters in your state is a good way not to elected
again," Dhillon told The Associated Press.
McDaniel is fighting MAGA frustration even after Trump dispatched his
lieutenants to California in the days leading up to the vote to help boost
McDaniel. The former president's senior adviser Susie Wiles was among those
Trump allies hosting private conversations with RNC members on Thursday.
Trump avoided making a public endorsement only at McDaniel's request,
according to those with direct knowledge of the situation. McDaniel's team was
confident she would win without his public backing, allowing her to maintain a
sense of neutrality heading into the 2024 presidential primary season.
Former Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, a former RNC chair,
was among those who gathered at the Waldorf Astoria this week to lobby for
"It appears as though Ronna's in very good shape to get reelected," Priebus
Meanwhile, Dhillon's allies were hard at work as well.
Former Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake was on site to lobby RNC
members on Dhillon's behalf. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered a top 2024
presidential prospect, also spoke out against McDaniel on the eve of the vote.
"I think we need a change. I think we need to get some new blood in the
RNC," DeSantis said in an interview with Florida's Voice, citing three
"substandard election cycles in a row" under McDaniel's leadership.
The next RNC chair will lead the committee through the 2024 presidential
The RNC controls much of the presidential nominating process -- including
the debates and voting calendar -- while directing GOP fundraising efforts and
the sprawling nationwide infrastructure designed to elect the next Republican
According to its rules, the RNC must remain neutral in the presidential
primary. Trump is the only announced GOP candidate so far, but other
high-profile contenders are expected in the coming months.
Dhillon, whose law firm earned more than $400,000 representing Trump and his
political organizations in the 2022 midterms, promised to leave her law
practice if elected. The California attorney also vowed to remain independent
in the 2024 Republican primary should she win.
Also in the race is MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a pro-Trump conspiracy
theorist who secured enough support to qualify for the ballot.
Lindell has already endorsed Trump's 2024 campaign and said he would not
change his mind if his longshot bid is successful Friday.
"I've never not endorsed Donald Trump," Lindell said. "I'm never moving off