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Ronna Romney McDaniel Might Be in Trouble
The RNC isn’t reversing course after the midterms—it’s going further to the right.
Hey fam: JVL here. I’m turning today’s newsletter over to my new Bulwark colleague, Joe Perticone, who has a fantastic story on the cray-cray at the RNC. (Teaser: He interviewed Mike Lindell; it was a wild ride.)
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After three consecutive election cycles in which Republicans have underperformed or been outright crushed, Ronna McDaniel’s campaign to hang on as chair of the Republican National Committee has hit a bump in the road.
She now has challengers looking to take her job, including right-wing lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who personally has profited from the Trump era and the McDaniel-run RNC.
The Dhillon Law Group has billed Trump-related PACs nearly $500,000 since 2021. Dhillon’s clients have included Make America Great Again PAC, Make America Great Again Action Inc., and Save America.
McDaniel also played a role in lining Dhillon’s pockets over the years. During her tenure, the RNC has paid Dhillon well over $1 million for legal and compliance services. (Dhillon claims that as chair, she would remove herself from the RNC’s decisions on which legal firms the committee employs.)
Funnily enough, Dhillon cornered the market for RNC legal services precisely because she stuck with them even as other, high profile, Washington lawyers jumped ship.
Also funny: Dhillon is running on the idea that the Republican party needs to cater even more to its base.
"I'd love to see more engagement with our base of the party,” Dhillon told Fox News. “The party's base has changed. Some members of the RNC were elected during the Reagan era. I was a Reagan-era Republican, as well. But this isn't that party.”
Meanwhile, McDaniel, who previously touted signatures from 101 RNC committee members declaring their support for her, is starting to get nervous. Team McDaniel compiled those signatures before Dhillon gained any momentum. Since then, committee members and state parties have lobbied and advocated for Dhillon, as well as other alternatives.
A source close to Dhillon estimates their whip count to be around 60 of the 168 committee members who will vote on the next chair. The source also noted that many are defections from McDaniel’s initial list of 101 supporters from the November letter.
In the wake of the Texas Republican Party unanimously voting to call for new leadership at the national level, Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi announced he is fiercely backing Dhillon. Rinaldi noted that none of the calls lobbying him have been in favor of McDaniel.
“So far, I’ve gotten about 3,000 emails regarding the RNC Chair race from Texas Republicans. Not a single one has been for McDaniel, about 30-40 have been for Lindell, the rest have been for [Dhillon]. I’m sorry I can’t respond to each one individually,” Rinaldi wrote on Twitter. “I’m voting for Dhillon.”
Mike Lindell also wants to be RNC chair so he can . . . fight election fraud.
In addition to Dhillon, election conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is also running for RNC chair. On Tuesday, The Bulwark spoke with Lindell by phone and he said that he is in the process of calling all 168 RNC committee members and has already locked in committed supporters in “the low 20s.” Lindell would not reveal which members were committed to his bid.
“I’m going to contact each and every one,” he added. “A lot of them I talk to for two to three hours at a time. So this is taking a lot of time.”
Lindell’s vision for overhauling the RNC is rooted in several changes, including dedicating a higher portion of donor dollars to Republican priorities, such as investigating allegations of election fraud. Lindell said he has spent more than $40 million of his personal fortune on election-related initiatives and investigations.
Lindell’s concerns about election fraud, he claimed, extend beyond just races in which Democrats win. He said he is reapportioning some of his resources to investigate how Ron DeSantis won Dade County in Florida.
“Because it’s a deviation,” Lindell said. “A Republican hasn’t won Dade County like DeSantis did. I just want to find out why that’s a deviation. Find out why it happened and if it happened, if there was problems with the election, things with the machine or whatever. If something happened, I want to know it happened.”
“We already know all the cheating that went on and stuff in all these other states against Republicans, but we know six Democrats it happened to too,” he added. “These machines need to go. They’re defective. They gotta go.”
Trump, still the Republican kingmaker, is caught in a bind, deciding against choosing between McDaniel and Dhillon, both of whom he views as loyal.
So far, Trump has avoided picking a side. “I think they’re both good,” Trump told Breitbart. “I like them both.”
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