Zeldin Steps Away, But McDaniel Faces Two Challengers For RNC Chair
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), an election denier who voted against certifying the 2020 election results, announced Wednesday that he’d hold off, for now, on challenging Ronna Romney McDaniel for the Republican National Committee’s top spot.
Zeldin — fresh off a defeat in the grueling New York gubernatorial election, a race he refused to concede hours after it was called — was considered a strong contender for the position, which he had been “seriously” mulling for about a month.
In a statement on Twitter announcing his decision to withdraw from the race, Zeldin slammed incumbent McDaniel’s re-election bid and demanded that she step aside for some “fresh blood.”
"RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel should not run for a 4th term. I won’t be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel’s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again. It’s time the GOP elects new leadership! It’s time for fresh blood!" Zeldin wrote.
\u201cRNC Chair Ronna McDaniel should not run for a 4th term.\n\nI won\u2019t be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel\u2019s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn\u2019t mean she should even be running again.\n\nIt\u2019s time the GOP elects new leadership!\n\nIt\u2019s time for fresh blood!\u201d— Lee Zeldin (@Lee Zeldin) 1670418000
The Long Island Republican said McDaniel had acted in seeking to retain the RNC Chair “as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter."
Indeed, McDaniel, also a close Trump ally, had just overseen a disappointing midterm election for the GOP, which had, in the months before, fervently anticipated sweeping up both chambers of Congress in a “red tsunami" but ended up with the smallest of majorities in the House and losses down ballot as well.
The Republican party’s historically underwhelming midterm performance culminated in a run-off defeat of the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker.
Like many Republicans subservient to Trump, McDaniel revels on the fringe side of political discourse. She peddled false allegations of wrongdoing in the 2020 elections; refused to acknowledge Joe Biden as president more than a year into his tenure; mocked Democrat John Fetterman’s post-stroke speech issues; and kept mum about Trump’s recent attack on the Constitution.
Besides Trump’s endorsement, McDaniel earned the support of many RNC voting members for her far-right stance, which stood in stark contrast with views disseminated by her centrist conservative uncle, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).
In a signed letter Friday, a large bloc of RNC voting members endorsed McDaniel’s bid for a fourth bout as party chair, writing: “We, the undersigned members of the Republican National Committee, are proud to offer our endorsement for your re-election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.”
Despite the rousing endorsement, several Republicans are considering challenging McDaniel, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and former White House aide Mercedes Schlapp.
McDaniel has two declared challengers thus far, including My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, a conspiracy theorist of interest to the House Select Committee and the U.S. government for his participation in the Trump-led effort to undermine the 2020 elections.
The pillow-peddler denounced McDaniel for “fail[ing] in her leadership” and said, “we need someone who knows how to run a business to lead one of the most important organizations in our country.”
Various right-wing commentators and agitators, many aligned with Trump, also have taken umbrage at McDaniel’s re-election biid.
\u201cI want to be as respectful as possible, \n\nbut there\u2019s no reason why Ronna McDaniel should be running for another term. \n\nAfter 6 years of losses, it\u2019s time for change.\n\nI\u2019ll need your help contacting the state chairs, committeemen, & committeewomen, who will elect the RNC Chair.\u201d— #ThePersistence (@#ThePersistence) 1670437809