At the party’s annual winter meeting, Ronna McDaniel defeated rebel opponent Harmeet Dhillon to earn re-election to a fourth term as the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
With 111 votes to 51 for Dhillon, 4 for MyPillow creator Mike Lindell, and 1 for former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who was not a candidate, McDaniel comfortably received the 168 votes required to win.
McDaniel is currently on pace to hold the GOP chairmanship for the most extended period since the 19th century. Following Republicans’ poor showing in the November midterm elections, she joins Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in fending off threats to their leadership.
For months, it seemed as though the competition was a done deal. Shortly after the midterm elections, McDaniel made an endorsement letter from more than 100 of the RNC’s 168 members public. This support convinced Zeldin not to run for RNC chairman himself.
However, members did not write off Dhillon before the vote because the poll was conducted by secret ballot and because of Dhillon’s vigorous campaign, which argued that McDaniel should not be reelected due to GOP inadequacies in November. Before the vote, about 30 RNC members had publicly endorsed Dhillon.
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Leading election conspirator Lindell started a far-fetched campaign, but it never really took off. McDaniel’s supporters contended that she was best suited to advance the party due to her resource management and positive working relationships with state party leadership.
After the tally was announced, McDaniel, Dhillon, and Lindell appeared in a show of unity on stage. In a statement, McDaniel said she was “deeply grateful that our members have entrusted me with another term in this role.”
“I look forward to working alongside conservative leaders, including Harmeet and Mike, from across our party to deliver on our promises to the American people,” she said.
Many RNC members say they expect hostilities to persist even when McDaniel takes over as chair. Before the vote, Jonathan Barnett, an RNC committeeman from Arkansas who supported Dhillon to lead the party, said, “After this is finished tomorrow, it’s not over.” The rebuilding process will take some time, but Harmeet still has a powerful voice. We are all sticking by Harmeet and won’t leave.
Dhillon expressed her disappointment in the outcome to reporters after the voting, but she reaffirmed her commitment to move past the setback and collaborate with McDaniel to advance Republican principles.
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