Ronna McDaniel faces two challengers to lead RNC after Lee Zeldin announces he won’t run

Rep. Lee Zeldin will not challenge Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, putting McDaniel one step closer to reelection despite a disappointing midterm cycle for Republicans, although she still faces two challengers so far. 

Zeldin, the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee in New York whose campaign is credited with helping flip several House seats in the blue state, announced Tuesday that he has decided against challenging McDaniel. But he still flung criticisms at McDaniel in his announcement, saying McDaniel should step aside. McDaniel is expected to hold the majority of support from the 168 RNC committee members. 

In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans managed to narrowly gain control of the House of Representatives, but they not only failed to flip a single Senate seat and even lost one, in Pennsylvania. The party now needs to gear up for the 2024 presidential race — and former President Donald Trump has already announced his candidacy. 

In his statement, Zeldin said McDaniel’s “reelection appears to already be pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter.”

“As for the Republican Party, it must become more successful at fundraising, more efficient with spending, sharper with ballot collection and election integrity efforts, smarter with messaging, more present in Democrat strongholds, and more connected to the grassroots,” Zeldin said in his statement. 

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 28: Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the
FILE: NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – FEBRUARY 28: Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee speaks during a session at CPAC 2019 on February 28, 2019 in National Harbor, Md. 

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images


Zeldin also said the GOP needs to do a “far better job communicating not just what we are against related to the terrible policies of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, but specifically what we are for as Republicans.” 

So far, McDaniel has two declared challengers: Harmeet Dhillon and Mike Lindell. Dhillion, a conservative attorney and RNC committeewoman from California, announced on Fox News Tuesday night that she’s running for RNC chair. 

“Republicans are tired of losing and I think that we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win,” Dhillon said on Fox News. “We can’t keep running elections like we did in the 90s and the 2000s and we really had to modernize to compete with the Democrats dollar for dollar in the ways they fundraise and the way they deliver their ballots to the ballot boxes.”

Lindell, the MyPillow CEO whose propagation of false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election has landed him squarely in the interest of the House Jan. 6 committee, is also vying to run the RNC. Lindell, in a recent interview with CBS News, said he was unsatisfied with the party’s performances in 2018, 2020 and 2022. 

“You need a different input to get a different output. That’s business 101,” Lindell told CBS News. 

Lindell is not expected to attract overwhelming support from the RNC committee members. 

McDaniel has been in charge of the RNC since 2017.

The RNC election will be held in January. 

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