Republican National Committee Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, gavels the call-to-order at the opening of the first day of the Republican National Convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., August 24, 2020.
Chris Carlson | Reuters
Ronna McDaniel won re-election to a fourth term as Republican National Committee chairwoman on Friday, besting insurgent challenger Harmeet Dhillon in a secret ballot vote at the party’s annual winter meeting.
McDaniel easily secured a majority of the 168 votes needed to win, with 111 votes compared to 51 for Dhillon, four for MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and one for former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who was not a candidate.
McDaniel is now on track to be the longest-serving GOP chair since the 19th century. She joins Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in staving off challenges to their leadership following Republicans’ disappointing performance in the November midterm elections.
The contest was seemingly a foregone conclusion for months. McDaniel released an endorsement letter from more than 100 of the RNC’s 168 members shortly after the midterms — support that led to Zeldin deciding not to launch his own bid to lead the RNC.
But with the vote held by secret ballot, and Dhillon’s aggressive campaign arguing that McDaniel should not be re-elected after GOP shortcomings in November, members did not write Dhillon off ahead of the vote. Publicly, roughly 30 RNC members had committed to Dhillon ahead of the ballot.
Lindell, a leading election conspiracist, launched a long-shot bid but never picked up much momentum.
McDaniel’s supporters argued she was best positioned to move the party forward because of her resource allocation and solid working relationship with state party leadership.
Even with McDaniel in place as the next chair, many RNC members say they expect tensions to remain.
“After this is over tomorrow, it’s not over,” said Jonathan Barnett, an RNC committeeman from Arkansas who backed Dhillon to lead the party. “It’s going to take some time to do some rebuilding, and Harmeet still has a strong voice. All of us who are supporting Harmeet are not going away.”
The RNC also approved a package of nine resolutions on Friday in a voice vote. They included measures condemning antisemitism, opposing ranked-choice voting, calling for President Joe Biden to be held accountable for his administration’s handling of the U.S. border with Mexico, pushing for the U.S. 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.