DANA POINT, Calif. – Republican National Committee chair Ronna 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.
McDaniel won 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.
The chair defeated her main challenger, California committee member Harmeet Dhillon, who won the support of 51 committee members. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and who ran a long-shot bid for chair, received only 4 votes.
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 GOP 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 a disappointing showing in November’s midterm elections and as it debates the future of the party and Trump’s continued grip over the GOP.
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McDaniel, who as Michigan GOP chair was Trump’s handpicked choice to steer the committee after he won the White House in 2016, was re-elected to the post in 2019 and 2021. McDaniel urged stability while Dhillon, who served as a top Trump legal adviser, 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.
In a national exclusive interview ahead of the vote, McDaniel told Fox News that RNC members “trust my leadership, and they know this is a critical, pivotal time that we cannot take down the infrastructure of the RNC and then be successful in 2024.”
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McDaniel has been a prolific fundraiser for the national party during her tenure leading the committee. According to McDaniel’s team, the chairwoman has hauled in a record $1.5 billion during her tenure, traveled more than half a million miles and held more than 330 donor events.
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.
Mike Lindell debates at an RNC chair debate in Dana Point, California on Wednesday
“The job of politics is elections, and it’s a binary choice. If we win, they lose and vice versa. And we’ve had too much losing over the last few years,” Dhillon told Fox News in a sit-down interview on the sidelines of the RNC meeting.
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On the eve of the highly anticipated vote, one of the most popular politicians in the GOP weighed-in on the race, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for “a change” and urged “new blood” at the RNC. The conservative governor, whose seen his standing soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years, proceeded to give a shout-out to Dhillon.
Trump, who arguably remains the GOP’s most popular and influential politician, and the only major contender to date to launch a 2024 presidential campaign, remained neutral, saying he liked both McDaniel and Dhillon.