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Despite recent failures, RNC’s Ronna McDaniel wins another term

As RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel has suffered a series of electoral and legal setbacks. Party members elected her to a fourth term anyway.


During her tenure as chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel has seen more setbacks than she generally likes to admit. As regular readers know, after Donald Trump chose her for the RNC role, McDaniel’s first national election cycle was awful: The party lost 40 House seats and its majority in the chamber.

Republicans’ fortunes did not soon improve. In McDaniel’s second election cycle atop the RNC, Republicans lost the White House and the U.S. Senate. And in her third election cycle at the RNC, McDaniel saw her party fall far short of expectations as Democrats defied the historical odds.

Complicating matters, McDaniel played a role in Trump’s post-election plot to overturn the results, conceding to the Jan. 6 committee that she helped recruit partisans for the fake elector scheme.

With a record like this, it wasn’t too surprising when Harmeet Dhillon — who, among other things, leads the Republican National Lawyers Association — announced on Fox News in early December that she’d challenge the incumbent chair. Dhillon argued that, as far as she was concerned, the party was “tired of losing.”

As it turns out, the party didn’t quite see it that way. NBC News reported this afternoon:

Ronna McDaniel won re-election to a fourth term as Republican National Committee chairwoman on Friday, besting insurgent challenger Harmeet Dhillon in a secret ballot vote at the party’s annual winter meeting.

The election, conducted by secret ballot, wasn't that close: McDaniel finished with 111 votes to Dhillon's 51. Conspiracy theorist and pillow salesman Mike Lindell was a distant third with four votes.

For the incumbent, this is obviously the good news. McDaniel, who’s positioned to be the longest-serving GOP chair since the 19th century, easily defeated a credible challenger, and her success came without any real support from the former president who appointed her. Asked last month about McDaniel and Dhillon, Trump told a far-right website, “I like them both.”

Last week, he hedged again. “Well, I can honestly say I like both of them,” Trump said. “I mean, I get along with both of them. I haven’t taken a stance, you know, let them fight it out.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, seemed to shake things up a bit yesterday by suggesting he wanted to see the incumbent’s ouster. “I think we need a change,” the Republican governor said. “I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC. I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of DC. ... We need some fresh thinking.”

Committee members stuck with McDaniel anyway.

The bad news, however, is that the newly re-elected RNC chair will continue to lead a divided party in which she has a significant number of critics — including state parties that have held “no confidence” votes against her in recent weeks.

Jonathan Barnett, an RNC committeeman from Arkansas and Dhillon supporter, told NBC News yesterday, "After this is over tomorrow, it’s not over. ... All of us who are supporting Harmeet are not going away."