Ron DeSantis’ Harmeet Dhillon RNC endorsement proves futile

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ endorsement of Harmeet Dhillon to chair the Republican National Committee (RNC) has proven futile, while a rivalry with his potential 2024 challenger, former President Donald Trump, heats up.

Outgoing president Ronna McDaniel won another term after RNC members voted by secret ballot at an annual meeting in California on Friday. McDaniel received 111 votes, more than double the 51 ballots committee members cast for Dhillon. Longtime candidate Mike Lindell, who said Newsweek earlier this week that he felt “really good” about his chances, received four votes.

During a Thursday interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk for Florida’s Voice, DeSantis said it was time for “a change” at the RNC and threw his support behind Dhillon, a lawyer and Republican Party official from California.

“I think we need a change,” DeSantis said. “I think we need to bring some new blood to the RNC. I like what Harmeet Dhillon said about the RNC pulling out of DC”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, top left, former RNC presidential candidate Harmeet Dhillon, top right, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, bottom left, and former President Donald Trump, in bottom right, are depicted. McDaniel secured another term as RNC chairman after a secret ballot vote on Friday. She was reportedly backed by Trump privately, while DeSantis offered last-minute public endorsement to lose candidate Dhillon.
Octavio Jones; PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP; Samuel Corum; Joe Raedle

Following a surprisingly poor performance for Republicans midway through November, particularly among high profile Trump-endorsed candidates in competitive races, some observers expected the election of the RNC chairman be more competitive.

A poll released Wednesday by Rasmussen Reports found that a majority of Republican voters did not want McDaniel to retain her post as RNC chairwoman. Lindell, favored by 30% of respondents, was the first choice to replace her.

However, GOP voters are not choosing the RNC chairman and Dhillon being easily crushed by McDaniel on Friday suggests that Republican officials favor the status quo regardless of which party has underperformed in each of the last three major national elections.

The result also highlights the relatively modest influence that DeSantis, who many believe is eyeing a 2024 presidential election, could currently have on party elites, especially compared to the former president.

The Florida governor is doing well in some polls over a hypothetical GOP primary matchup against Trump, who announced in November he would seek a nonconsecutive second term.

After picking McDaniel to become RNC chairman in 2017, he reportedly privately backed her to keep the job on Friday, which RNC insiders were likely aware of.

The former president refrained from making a public endorsement for the election of the RNC chairman at McDaniel’s request, according to a Friday Associated Press article that cites unnamed sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

Trump congratulated McDaniel on his victory in a Truth Social post, while repeating unsubstantiated allegations that Democrats were “cheating” in the election.

“Congratulations to Ronna McDaniel on her big win as RNC CHAIR,” Trump wrote. “Now we must STOP DEMOCRATS FROM CHEATING IN THE ELECTIONS!”

Newsweek contacted DeSantis’ office for comment.


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