The three-way race for the Republican National Committee chairmanship could spell another setback for a party looking to enter the 2024 cycle with a united front.
Each of the three candidates vying for the presidency — current attorney Ronna McDaniel, California-based Harmit Dillon and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell — has confirmed to CNN either themselves or through allies, that they are eligible to participate in the ballot. It would be the first time in more than a decade that a drawn-out ballot process — scheduled to take place when the 168-member Electoral Commission meets in Southern California later this month — several people familiar with the matter said. on the tackle. An RNC spokesperson declined to comment on the status of any of the nominees’ qualifications.
According to an email sent to RNC members last week, competing candidates had until 10 a.m. Friday to qualify for the ballot by submitting “written evidence” of majority support from National Committee members in at least three states. McDaniel, Dhillon and Lindell will participate in candidate forums before panelists vote by secret ballot on January 27 to elect their next leader.
“Yes 3 in,” Lindell said in a text message Friday when asked if he had submitted his papers to qualify for the President’s race. The MyPillow founder, a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump’s electoral fraud allegations, declined to identify which panelists were supporting his campaign.
“She told me I wanted to be discreet because I didn’t want the media to attack them,” he said.
A person close to Dillon also confirmed that the California commissioner has submitted the necessary paperwork to qualify and plans to have a “full whip to the ground” at the winter meeting in two weeks. That process will include nightly receptions for committee members and a handful of high-profile surrogates, who travel for the occasion, including defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Carrie Lake and President of the United States of America, Charlie Kirk, the person said.
“We feel very good. My God, there is a very, very clear path to winning this thing,” said the person close to Dillon, as of yesterday.
“Rona McDaniel looks forward to participating in the Candidates Forum at the Winter Meeting,” said Emma Vaughn, a spokeswoman for McDaniel’s re-election campaign.
The contested presidential race will happen just weeks after House Republicans secure their new majority with a days-long struggle to elect their leader after the party’s underwhelming performance in the midterm elections and amid angry protests at Kevin McCarthy – who was eventually elected president – by some of its more conservative members. At the House Republican Convention. Another drawn-out leadership election within the GOP’s governing body could deal a second blow to the GOP in its quest for party unity and exacerbate the ongoing strategic debates across the party.
Candidate forums, which have been held in past years, will allow candidates to run for chair and other contested positions — including co-chair and treasurer — to present their case to committee members in the form they choose, according to a person familiar with the planning. While each will be allotted the same amount of time, one candidate can choose to spend the term speaking directly to members about their campaign or responding to questions from members throughout.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a tumultuous thing, per se, but I’m sure both of Rona’s rivals will argue forcefully why she should go and why they should replace her,” said a panelist who plans to support Dillon.
The incumbent will use the Candidates Forum to “continue her conversations with the 168 members, our party’s grassroots leaders who are eager to unite together to compete and win in 2023 and 2024,” said Vaughn, a spokeswoman for McDaniel.
McDaniel declined to engage in public discussions with Dillon and Lindell, who is scheduled to be hosted by radio host John Fredericks and right-wing outlet Real America at the Dana Point California resort where RNC members will meet later this month. Vaughn cited the RNC-sanctioned nominee’s forum as McDaniel’s reason for not wanting to participate, adding that the sitting chairwoman “will oversee party business during the remainder of the RNC meeting.”
Had you agreed to participate in the Fredericks forum, it is unlikely that McDaniel would get a fair platform. The Virginia-based talk show host has described McDaniel, who is running for a fourth term, as a “three-time loser” and presiding over “the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen.”
With two weeks left until the RNC members meet in California, the race for the chair has taken a heated turn.
A series of no-confidence votes against McDaniel by various government parties emboldened Dillon and her allies, while some opponents of the California attorney quietly began raising questions about her Sikh faith, according to two people familiar with those conversations.
We must reject religious intolerance [within] Our wonderful party. Attacking the Sikh Faith of an Asian American 4th Chair RNC Candidate Has Optics of Racism! Oregon State Committee member Solomon Yu, an early Dillon supporter, wrote on Twitter earlier this week, along with a screenshot of a text message from a fellow RNC member who claims they were contacted by a “former RNC employee who lives In a Southern State” in an effort to release video of Dillon delivering Sikh prayers at the 2016 Republican Party Convention in Cleveland.
Following the allegations, McDaniel, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued a statement to NBC News condemning “religious bigotry in any form.”
“As a member of a religious minority, I will never condone such attacks. I have vowed to run a positive campaign and will continue to do so.
While more than 100 RNC members signed a letter in November endorsing McDaniel’s re-election as president, allies of her opponents claim there have been cracks in her support in the weeks since. Several state executive committees held a vote of no confidence in McDaniel, with another vote taking place in Florida.
Both the Alabama and Louisiana Republican parties endorsed resolutions or publicly urged members of the CNC to vote against McDaniel. In Arizona, Republican leaders late last year called on McDaniel to resign, while the Texas GOP Executive Committee urged the three RNC committee members to support the new leadership rather than support McDaniel. In Florida, two state Republican presidential candidates recently signed a petition to force a vote of no confidence against McDaniel, and her fate remains unknown as of now.
However, Vaughn claimed in a statement that “member support for the committee chair has increased since her announcement” for her re-election bid.
While McDaniel’s allies continue to tout her early stated support from more than 100 members, it’s unclear if that support will continue when committee members vote later this month. Because votes are cast by secret ballot, it is possible that some of the signatories to the pro-McDaniel letter would defect without revealing their identities.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of RNC chair public debates to be hosted by Real America’s Voice.