Washington, Jan 28 (PTI) Harmeet Dhillon, a prominent Indian-American attorney failed in her bid to win the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to Ronna McDaniel who was reelected in a high-profile and combustible election that could hurt the party as it prepares for the race for the White House in 2024.
Dhillon, 54, a former California Republican Party Co-Chair, contested against incumbent McDaniel, whom former US president Donald Trump tapped as RNC chair in 2016.
McDaniel, 49, was comfortably re-elected in a secret ballot on Friday for the second consecutive term, as she received 111 votes against Dhillon’s 51.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell received four votes.
RNC is the top governing body of the Republican Party led by Trump. The meeting of the RNC was held at a luxury seaside resort in southern California’s Orange County. With the victory, McDaniel will serve a rare fourth term as chair of the RNC, becoming the longest-serving RNC chair since the Civil War.
The defeat of Dhillon is also seen as a setback for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who of late has emerged as a formidable challenger to Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential primary. DeSantis had endorsed Dhillon at the last-minute.
“Congratulations to Ronna McDaniel on her big WIN as RNC CHAIR. Now we have to STOP THE DEMOCRATS FROM CHEATING IN ELECTIONS!" Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“After a hard-fought effort, we, unfortunately, came up-shot. However, the RNC will be better for the tough conversations that were desperately needed about how to reform the RNC to win elections and earn the trust of our voters, activists and donors,” Dhillon said in a statement after the election results were declared.
"A brief thought about the RNC Chair race. It’s been an honor to hear from all the Americans who reached out to share their views about the party’s leadership. While we are disappointed with the results, we started a movement & I will keep working to elect Republicans nationwide!!," she tweeted.
According to Politico, the at times fierce, two-month-long race sparked debates about how the RNC has managed its finances and fared in recent elections.
“It also saw some members — on both sides of the contest — publicly calling into question the character of their colleagues, putting McDaniel and her allies on the defensive and forcing the incumbent chair to assemble an aggressive whip operation to shore up her support,” it said.
"We’re disappointed in the results, having left it all on the field and worked really hard over the last several weeks in this campaign," Dhillon told reporters.
"The results were not what we or our hundreds of thousands of supporters around the country were looking for, and I think the party’s going to have to deal with that fallout and disconnect from the grassroots," she said.
Dhillon also warned fellow Republicans that "if voters think that our party is out of touch with the voters, they’re not going to show up. We've got to solve that problem in the next two years." After her win, McDaniel invited Dhillon and Lindell onstage for a photo op, implicitly attempting to rebut criticism about the fractured nature of the party, CNN reported.
“With us united and all of us going together, the Democrats are going to hear us in 2024,” McDaniel said.
“We need all of us. We heard you, grassroots. 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,” McDaniel said after her electoral victory. PTI LKJ AMS AKJ AMS