DeSantis lines up proxy battle with Trump, as he weighs into RNC contest against Ronna McDaniel

‘We need new blood’: Ron DeSantis sets up proxy battle with Trump as he says Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel needs to be replaced by challenger Harmeet Dhillon

  • Ron DeSantis Thursday came out for Harmeet Dhillon in race for RNC chair 
  • He said it was time for ‘new blood’ as Ronna McDaniel seeks a fourth term
  • Trump is backing McDaniel, setting up an arm’s length battle between the two

Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the battle for chair of the Republican National Committee, throwing his support behind challenger Harmeet Dhillon and spelling out the need for new blood after disappointing midterm elections. 

It sets up a proxy clash between two of the Republican party’s heavyweights and possible 2024 rivals, as former President Donald Trump is quietly backing incumbent Ronna McDaniel.

‘I think we need a change, I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC,’ DeSantis said. 

‘I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of DC […] We need some fresh thinking.’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Former President Donald Trump

Ron DeSantis’s decision to back Harmeet Dhillon for RNC chair sets up an arm’s length battle with Donald Trump, whose aides are quietly backing incumbent Ronna McDaniel

His intervention comes as the 168 members of the RNC are gathered for their winter meeting in California.

They are due to pick their chair for the next two years in a secret ballot on Friday.

McDaniel’s team is convinced they have the votes needed to secure a fourth term.

But Dhillon’s supporters say fresh thinking is needed to make Republicans more competitive in elections.

‘We’ve had three substandard election cycles in a row – ’18, ’20, and ’22,’ DeSantis told Florida’s Voice.

‘And I would say of all three of those, ’22 was probably the worst given the political environment of a very unpopular president in Biden.

‘Huge majorities of the people think the country is going in the wrong direction.

‘That is an environment that’s tailor made to make gains in the House and the Senate and state houses all across the country. And yet that didn’t happen.

‘In fact we lost ground in the Senate.’

Challenger Harmeet Dhillon

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel

Harmeet Dhillon is running to unseat Ronna McDaniel as chairwoman, saying a change is needed after several cycles of disappointing election results

DeSantis has yet to reveal his 2024 plans. But he comes off a landslide victory in his own state last year, and has excited a large wing of the Republican Party with his culture war credentials, and relative youth at the age of 44.

Dhillon said she welcomed the comments of DeSantis which reflected grassroots’ feeling.

’85, 90, 95 percent of Republicans are supporting a change in leadership at the RNC,’ she said.

‘And so I’m sure Governor DeSantis is hearing it and I’m sure frankly, every Republican elected official around the country is hearing that.’

Trump remains the only declared candidate for 2024, and is reported to be quietly backing McDaniel, whom he helped propel to the top of the RNC.

He cannot weigh in publicly for fear of upsetting the committee’s neutrality in the nomination process. 

But the Associated Press reported that former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus will be in McDaniel’s unofficial whipping team.

And aides have quietly let it be known that he wants McDaniel to return for a fourth-term. 

The contest has split MAGA world, however. Kari Lake, who lost her bid to become governor of Arizona last year, is campaigning for Dhillon as members gather at a luxury California hotel for the election.

Trump loyalist and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell has also jumped ship, and is running against McDaniel but has little chance of winning. 


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