Ronna McDaniel wins re-election in fourth term as RNC president

DANA POINT, Calif. — Ronna McDaniel won re-election to a fourth term as Republican National Committee chairman Friday, beating insurgent challenger Harmeet Dhillon in a secret ballot at the party’s annual winter meeting.

McDaniel easily secured the majority of the 168 votes needed to win, with 111 votes to Dhillon’s 51, four from MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, and one from former Representative Lee Zeldin, RN.Y., who was not a candidate.

McDaniel is now on course to become the longest-serving GOP chairman since the 19th century. He joins Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in staving off challenges to their leadership after the Republicans’ disappointing performance in the midterm elections in November.

The contest was apparently a foregone conclusion for months. McDaniel released a letter of endorsement from more than 100 of the 168 RNC members shortly after the midterm — support that led to Zeldin’s decision not to pitch his own bid to lead the RNC.

But with the vote held by secret ballot and Dhillon’s aggressive campaign arguing McDaniel should not be re-elected after GOP shortcomings in November, members did not clear Dhillon ahead of the vote. Publicly, some 30 NCR members had pledged to Dhillon before the runoff.

Lindell, a leading campaign conspiracy theorist, launched a long-term bid but it never gathered much momentum.

McDaniel’s supporters argued that he was best placed to advance the party due to his resource allocation and strong working relationship with state party leadership.

After the count was announced, McDaniel, Dhillon and Lindell appeared on stage together in a unity show. In a statement, McDaniel said she was “deeply grateful that our members have given me another mandate 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,” he said.

Harmeet Dhillon (Anda Chu / MediaNews Group / Bay Area News via Getty Images file)

Harmeet Dhillon (Anda Chu / MediaNews Group / Bay Area News via Getty Images file)

Even with McDaniel incumbent as the next president, many RNC members say they expect tensions to remain.

“After all of this is over tomorrow, it’s not over,” said Jonathan Barnett, an Arkansas RNC committee member who backed Dhillon to lead the party, before the vote. “It’s going to take some time to do some rebuilding, and Harmeet still has a strong voice. All of us who support Harmeet will not go away.”

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Dhillon said she was “disappointed” by the outcome but reiterated her commitment to put the defeat behind her and work with McDaniel to advance Republican causes.

But he said the party “will face the consequences of being disconnected from the grassroots”. He added that he believes some members “are going to feel a little different [about their votes] when they return to their homes, particularly if they are from a state or county, which voted overwhelmingly to support change in the RNC.”

The RNC also approved a package of nine resolutions in a voice vote on Friday. The resolutions included measures condemning anti-Semitism, opposing ranked-choice voting, demanding that President Joe Biden be held accountable for his administration’s handling of the US border with Mexico, urging the US to “shut down” any “Chinese police station” operating in the country and to broadly discourage the use of TikTok, including encouraging a ban on its use on federal government devices.

The anti-Semitism resolution directly called hip-hop artist Kanye West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who dined with former President Donald Trump late last year, as well as Representatives Cori Bush, D-Mo ., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

Oscar Brock, a Dhillon supporter, said he would continue to push for greater party transparency after the election and pledged to work with McDaniel moving forward.

“He’s not a bad person,” she said. “I mean, she’s not evil. I just wanted to win more elections.”

Looking to 2024, Brock said the NCR has “the ability to get on track,” but whether the party will do so remains an open question.

Regarding his message to voters at home, Brock said, “We did everything in our power to get people to vote for change.”

“And at the end of the day, we didn’t win,” he said. “So, it happens.”

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