Members of the Republican National Committee handed Ronna McDaniel a fourth term as chairwoman on Friday, despite a strong challenge from a Trump-linked lawyer who said the party had to rein in lavish spending and do better in elections.
McDaniel, who had the private support of former President Donald Trump, beat Harmeet Dhillon by 111 to 51 votes after just one round of voting.
MyPillow founder and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell won just four votes.
Members were selecting a party chief executive who will manage fundraising and build much of the national infrastructure for the 2024 campaign.
It marked a test of Trump’s grip on the party, pitting McDaniel, whom he propelled to power, against other elements of his MAGA movement.
Ronna McDaniel easily beat Harmeet Dhillon on Friday to secure a fourth term as Republican National Committee chairwoman, after a bitter campaign amid allegations of mismanagement
Defeated candidates Mike Lindell and Dhillon joined McDaniel on stage after the result for a group hug and a show of unity, after a bitter campaign
McDaniel issued a call for unity immediately after the results were announced in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach, California.
‘We need all of us. We heard you grassroots,’ she said.
‘We know. We heard Harmeet, we heard Mike Lindell but with us united and all of us going together the Democrats are going to hear us in 2024 when we take back the White House and the Senate.’
But the contest revealed deep divisions between different wings of the party.
And Dhillon repeated her claims that the grassroots had been ignored and the apparatus of the RNC had lined up behind McDaniel.
‘I’m committed to healing and coming together with folks,’ she told reporters.
‘But at the end of the day, if our party is perceived as totally out of touch with the grassroots, which I think some may take away from this, we have some work to do.’
MyPillow chief executive and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell secured enough support to make it on to the ballot but won just four votes in Friday’s ballot
McDaniel’s campaign has for months said they had the support of more than 100 of the 168 committee members and were confident of victory on the first ballot on Friday
Donald Trump quietly offered support to McDaniel, but elements of his MAGA base lined up in favour of Dhillon, who offered herself as the candidate of the grassroots
It is the first time the post has been contested in a decade, as critics of McDaniel lined up to say the RNC had to do a better job after disappointing election results in 2018, 2020, and 2022.
Dhillon ran an aggressive campaign. Dhillon set the blame for the midterms at McDaniel’s door, saying the RNC failed to mobilize the vote as well as the Democratic Party, which was able to hold the Senate and limit losses in the House.
She also accused the incumbent of chronic misspending, wasting tens of millions of dollars on consultants, and religious bigotry against Dhillon’s Sikh faith — all claims that McDaniel denied.
But McDaniel’s supporters argued that the midterm problems lay with weak candidates, and has said she is the candidate of unity.
Ahead of the vote, she said the midterms had gone better than the headline results suggested.
‘We won the popular vote by four million votes,’ she told RNC members
‘If this had been a presidential year. we would have won the Electoral College with 297 votes. That’s a really good sign as we head into 2024.’
Rooms start at more than $820 plus a $55-a-night resort charge and taxes
The battle was the latest display of division in the party, coming soon after members of Congress almost came to blows this month before finally electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker on the 11th vote.
Conservative activist Charlie Kirk was one the high-profile figures backing Dhillon.
He said the grass roots was tired of losing.
‘The general sentiment is like, okay, you raise massive amounts of money . You spend it a time as questionably, and then what do you have to show for it like a four seat majority in the House and you lose the Senate,’ he said.
‘And I think that’s completely and totally unacceptable. I think the stakes have never been higher for our country.’
Speaking before the result, he said he would not be able to tell his supporters to back the RNC if McDaniel remained in place.
‘If she wins, I can’t good in faith say to my audience, our members, or our students, to continue to support the RNC financially or otherwise,’ he said.
‘And I don’t say that in some celebratory fashion or with a heart for arson, because you need a strong RNC.’
But without substantive change their money will not help deliver wins, he added. x
Dhillon’s campaign received a boost on Thursday when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said it was time for ‘new blood’ at the top of the RNC and that he liked some of her plans.
‘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.’