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Trump’s takeover of the RNC will destroy it from within

His hand-picked candidates to lead the party don't show an understanding of what the job actually entails, and the GOP will pay the price.

As a real estate developer, Donald Trump loved to put his name on other people’s buildings. Now, he’s about to pull off a similar rebranding of the Republican National Committee.

It’s going to end in an implosion about as dramatic as his failed Atlantic City casino.

After forcing out onetime ally Ronna McDaniel as RNC chair, Trump has endorsed North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley and his own daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to lead the party apparatus.

In a recent television appearance, Lara Trump showed little appreciation for the responsibility her father-in-law is about to give her, as she summed up her guiding principle in a single sentence:

“Every single penny will go to the number one and the only job of the RNC — that is electing Donald J. Trump as president of the United States and saving this country.

Lara Trump

As a former RNC chair myself, I can say with confidence that electing Trump — or any other presidential candidate — is not the only job. 

Winning the White House is always a top goal, but, as I’ve said before, the RNC chair has a number of other duties, which this year would include keeping the House majority, retaking the Senate, rebuilding state parties, raising money for Republican candidates, coordinating campaign messaging, developing a party platform, planning get-out-the-vote efforts and serving as the public face of the GOP.

Since 2015, Trump’s rise has (predictably) led to a diminished Republican Party – financially, electorally, and in fidelity to conservative values.

By going all-in on its capitulation to Trump, the party of fiscal responsibility is making an atrocious investment. It’s compounding the problems that it has already faced due to him. Since 2015, Trump’s rise has (predictably) led to a diminished Republican Party – financially, electorally, and in fidelity to conservative values.

There may be an “R” next to Donald Trump’s name this November in the increasingly likely scenario that he becomes the Republican nominee, but the RNC is ceding ground to a man who is not and has never been a Republican. To use a term he should be very familiar with, Donald Trump is the ultimate RINO — a “Republican in Name Only.”

As president, Trump abandoned free trade. He cozied up to brutal authoritarian leaders. He racked up huge deficits and embraced reckless spending.

If his willful ignorance and apathy toward conservative principles wasn’t enough (remember, the GOP has failed to adopt a party platform), Trump has led the Republican Party on an embarrassing losing streak, despite promises the GOP would “get tired of winning."

With his loss in 2020, Trump became the first one-term President since George H.W. Bush. He was the first president whose party lost the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate in a single term since Herbert Hoover in 1932.

The losing streak continued into the 2022 midterms with the “red wave” that wasn’t. Yes, Republicans took back the House, but with a razor-thin majority — one that has only whittled further and grown more divided in its first year. What’s more, dozens of candidates Trump endorsed in key battleground races saw losses.

But Republicans aren’t just losing races with Trump. The party is losing money.

The RNC wrapped up 2023 with its lowest fundraising totals in a decade. Now, with Trump loyalists poised to take the helm, concerns are growing about how whatever money the party is able to raise will be used.

The party paid out hundreds of thousands in Trump’s legal bills in 2021. So, the fact that Lara Trump recently suggested Republican voters actually want the committee to bail Trump out for the millions in legal fees he currently owes is concerning to both donors and activists.

In addition to hurting the party’s chances for the White House, this unfettered loyalty to Trump is splintering local Republican parties in crucial battleground states.

In Michigan, Republicans ousted state party chairwoman and election denier Kristina Karamo, who subsequently refused to step down, leading to chaos and confusion in what could be a bellwether state in 2024.

Arizona’s state party Chair Jeff DeWit resigned after Trump loyalist and Senate candidate Kari Lake leaked a recording in which he offered Lake job opportunities in exchange for a two-year break from politics.

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp recently expressed skepticism of the RNC’s ability to get the vote out there, saying, “I’ve had concerns about the RNC and their ability to get the vote out and to get the early vote out and to raise enough money to be able to help candidates on the ground and in Georgia.”

None of this should come as a surprise. For nearly a decade, we’ve seen the chaos, the division, the grifters and the conspiracy theories Trump ushered in consume the Republican Party. And now it appears this once-great party wants more of the same.

So much for winning.