by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The race for the Republican National Committee chairmanship offered a fascinating glimpse into the state of the party between last year’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential contest.
Republicans have not made any major leadership changes following a disappointing midterm cycle in which they failed to capitalize on a highly favorable political environment, are unsure how to deal with former President Donald Trump, still struggle to focus on making their case against President Joe Biden while re-litigating the 2020 election results, and have little faith in their party’s establishment wing but have been unable to build a credible alternative to it.
Ronna McDaniel trounced conservative attorney Harmeet Dhillon 111 to 51 on her way to a fourth term at the helm of the RNC. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell received four votes.
Despite minimal support among RNC members, both camps to varying degrees feted Lindell, known mainly for his pillows and purloined election claims. McDaniel pledged after winning to work “alongside Harmeet and Mike, to heal as a Party and elect Republicans,” while a top Dhillon representative declared of her candidate and Lindell, “Those two people, together, they can land this plane right now for our country.”
McDaniel’s reelection comes just after two dozen conservatives forced the House speaker vote to go 15 ballots and extracted concessions from eventual Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). But they didn’t have a viable challenger to McCarthy who could win a majority either on the House floor or in the Republican conference. Another higher-stakes version of this fight will play out in the coming weeks over raising the debt ceiling.
Grassroots conservatives have little faith in the GOP’s governing class to fulfill campaign promises and realize their policy objectives even after winning elections. But one of the reasons the House Republican majority is small and Democrats still control the Senate is that too few of the candidates who prevailed in the primaries thanks to conservative activists — and, especially, Trump — won their elections.