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What the RNC infighting could mean for GOP politics

Right-wing lawyer Harmeet Dhillon announced a bid to head the Republican National Committee. Her victory would make the GOP even more Trumpian.


The knives are out at the Republican National Committee after lawyer Harmeet Dhillon announced Monday her bid to oust Ronna McDaniel as the group's leader. 

In a post last week about former President Donald Trump’s power over the GOP,  I mentioned Dhillon is one of several MAGA-loving conservatives recently tasked with charting a path forward for the RNC after the party's historic failure in this year's midterm elections. The insurgent candidate chose, fittingly, to announce her campaign during a television interview with Fox News conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson.

Dhillon, a co-chair of Women for Trump, doesn’t have the same ties to establishment Republicans as McDaniel. But her support for various conspiratorial election lawsuits in 2020 and beyond has earned her praise from extremists in the GOP. She certainly appears to be a more viable challenger to McDaniel than fellow Trump loyalist and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.

The most important thing to know about Dhillon? If elected, she’d make a key aspect of Trumpism — voter suppression and election denial using the court system — more common in the GOP.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk has become a right-wing kingmaker of sorts, and he’s made Dhillon’s potential control of the RNC a cause célèbre for his organization for this exact reason. (Note: She’s also a frequent guest on his show). 

“We are in the era of lawfare and we keep on losing in the courts," he said after welcoming Dhillon to his web show Tuesday. "Maybe we should have a chairwoman of the RNC that’s a lawyer that has a killer instinct."

Dhillon clearly agrees. During their conversation, she accused the McDaniel-run RNC of an “appalling” misuse of funds, claiming the leadership buys RNC chair votes “with donor money.” And she suggested the RNC should invest in an army of election lawyers to help challenge electoral processes. She seemed to be referring to the very kinds of failed, conspiratorial lawsuits she supported after Trump lost the 2020 election. 

“As a result, we don’t have a cadre of lawyers who’d be specializing in election litigation and willing to do it year-round,” she complained.

Dhillon, who touted her dubious work as an election lawyer for failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and failed Senate candidate Blake Masters, used her interview this week on Fox News to repeatedly call for the RNC to fund rabid, Republican attorneys like her who she envisions spending the bulk of their time trying to restrict voting rights and voter access through the courts. 

Dhillon admitted McDaniel and the RNC did, in fact, join some of Trump’s baseless election lawsuits in 2020. But she was clear in saying the GOP should be spending more of its time and money on lawyers who’d essentially act as a kind of evil foil to liberal voting rights groups. And she claimed McDaniel's RNC is planning to decrease its investment in a Trump-initiated “election integrity” project meant to restrict ballot access. 

“That does not work for me,” she said. 

As I explained in my post last week, McDaniel remaining the RNC chair would, on its own, signal Trump is still in control of the GOP. She’s a Trump sycophant. But if she’s ousted by Dhillon, it’ll be clear that the most petulant and pitiful aspect of Trump’s reign — election denialism  — will continue to define conservative politics.