DANA POINT, Calif. – Harmeet Dhillon has a warning for the Republican National Committee.
Dhillon, the RNC committee member from California who was unsuccessful on Friday in her bid to unseat longtime national party chair Ronna McDaniel in a high-profile and combustible election, pointed to her grassroots support and warned “if we go back to our homes and ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.”
McDaniel won re-election on Friday, bringing to an end nearly two months of barbs and accusations amid a major fight for the future of the GOP.
The chair grabbed the support of 111 committee members who cast ballots in a secret ballot vote for chair, more than the majority of the 168 members needed to secure a fourth two-year term steering the RNC, which is unprecedented in modern times. The vote took place on the final day of the RNC’s winter meeting, which was held this year at a luxury seaside resort in southern California’s Orange County.
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Re-elected Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, center, is hugged by a member as candidates Harmeet Dhillon, second from right, and Mike Lindell, right, watch at the committee’s winter meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.
Dhillon, an attorney who served as a legal adviser for former President Donald Trump, won the support of 51 committee members. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump’s repeated re-litigating of the 2020 presidential election and who ran a long shot bid for chair, received only 4 votes.
Dhillon ran an insurgent campaign stressing that change was needed following the Republican Party’s lackluster performance in the 2022 midterms, which many in the GOP expected to be a red wave election.
“We’re disappointed in the results, having left it all on the field and worked really hard over the last several weeks in this campaign,” Dhillon said. “The results were not what we or our hundreds of thousands of supporters around the country were looking for, and I think the party’s going to have to deal with that fallout and disconnect from the grassroots.”
And she warned that “if voters think that our party is out of touch with the voters, they’re not going to show up. We’ve got to solve that problem in the next two years.”
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McDaniel has been a prolific fundraiser for the national party during her tenure leading the committee. But the GOP electoral setbacks in November during McDaniel’s tenure, such as the Republicans failing to win back the Senate and losing key gubernatorial races, as well as in 2018 when the party lost the House majority and in 2020 when it lost control of the Senate and the White House, sparked calls for a change of leadership.
Asked about Dhillon’s criticism, McDaniel argued in an exclusive interview with Fox News following her re-election victory that “I think the grassroots has been fed some misinformation from her campaign, and we’re going to reach out to them.”
“I’m going to go on a grassroots tour. I would love for her [Dhillon] to come with me. I want other leaders in our party to come with me,” McDaniel emphasized. “But they don’t always understand what the RNC does. And that’s our job to go out. But we love the grassroots. We appreciate them. We need them to go knock doors and be poll watchers. And I’m going to be traveling the country, getting them ready for beating the Democrats because we can only do that united.”
McDaniel pledged to reach out and call Dhillon and Lindell, adding that “my whole campaign for this election has been unity. We need all of us. We need addition, not subtraction. And we can’t fight each other so much that we don’t recognize that we’ve got to beat the Democrats. So that’s what I’m going to do as leader of this party. I’m going to reach out to both of them.”
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Dhillon still has two years left in her term as a committee member from California, and she told reporters “I pledged throughout this campaign to work hand in the hand with the party the winner of this election, whoever it was, and I intend to honor that pledge and continue to work hard with Ronna.”
Asked about any specific leadership role going forward for Dhillon, McDaniel said “we haven’t discussed anything like that.”
The RNC showdown, the party’s first hotly contested chair race in a dozen years, became a contentious family feud as the GOP decided its leadership. The drama unfolded as the party jumps into an election cycle seeking to win back the White House, regain the Senate majority and hold its fragile control of the House. It also came as the party aims to rebound from November’s disappointing results and as it debates the future of the party and Trump’s continued grip over the GOP.
Dhillon, after her defeat, charged that “100% I’m saying” that the RNC apparatus was not neutral in the chair race. “Thaat’s not fair. That’s using corporate resources for personally benefit.”
But she added that “I’m not challenging the results. I mean it wasn’t that close. I can read.”
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And she emphasized that “a lot of supporters of Ronna came to me. Thanked me for running and saying ‘you raised important issues and there are things that the chair is going to have to answer for….We cannot have a perpetual chairman of the Republican National Committee who never leaves because she uses her resources to get herself re-elected.”
McDaniel, in her interview, responded, saying “this is my last term as chair. I’m saying it on Fox News. It’s done.”