Early next month, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee will vote either to grant Ronna McDaniel another term as chairwoman of the party, or for someone to replace her. So far, her challengers are MyPillow.com CEO Mike Lindell and California state chair Harmeet Dhillon. Serious Republicans are now looking West, though in mid-December, McDaniel released a list of over 100 members who supported her re-election in a “don’t even think about it” kind of wagon-circling maneuver you could call either offense or defense depending on where you stand.
Like the great state of Texas, most rank-and-file Republicans want Ronna to pack her bags. When McDaniel tried to say resistance is futile, the Texas state party shot back a unified signal of dissent. By a vote of 62-0, they said:
“Under Chairwoman McDaniel’s leadership, the GOP lost both houses of Congress and the White House, and seriously underperformed in 2022 by further losing ground in the Senate and only barely winning a majority in the House,” the resolution said, adding that new leadership is necessary to “address deficiencies in fundraising, messaging, GOTV and election integrity.”
Yet the Washington establishment disagrees. Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen wrote last week that McDaniel is not to blame for the party’s stunning under-performance and, more importantly, she is least Trumpy of the current lot of choices. Olsen must have been sniffing glue during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, because then McDaniel struck me anyway as every bit the shill. More importantly, she facilitated the Trumps using RNC coffers as their own personal piggy banks.
Oh yeah, Reince Preibus wants McDaniel to have a second term too.
Swamp creatures admire a woman who uses the rules to block any challengers because it is such an insiders’ game. Consider the lovely Debbie Wassermann-Schultz, who militarized the DNC into a Hillary or death machine and knee-capped poor old Bernie Sanders in 2016. Sure, she had to turn over the reins to Donna Brazile (who played the same game) for optics, but in the phosphorescent glow of that vile ecosystem, she continues to be regarded as something of a saint.
Politics is a slow-witted business, sadly. In the private sector, people who don’t perform get the shaft and people who do get rewarded. In Washington, there live legions of Henry Olsens to aid in the blame avoidance shuffle that is the only thing folks down there do well.
Bringing it home, Maine state GOP chairwoman Demi Kouzounas, also up for re-election, is McDaniel loyalist, according to multiple sources. In an effort to confirm whether this were true, I wrote to her, but she didn’t respond. Don’t worry, activists assure me, Demi only talks to insiders.
But for the sake of argument, let’s take the McDaniel/Kouzounas case on its merits. They did the best they could do, and that is why they are now the ones best positioned to do better. It’s a delicate game, you see, and it requires the kind of experience only an insider brings to the table. The rest of us are just a little to dim to get it, but if we quiet down, it will be alright. None of that makes sense, you say? Well, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.
As Mitt Romney’s niece, McDaniel’s connection to the activist base of the party is tenuous at best. Paul LePage’s choice, Kouzounas too clings to fading and diminished coattails. Had Romney been not so firmly committed to surrounding himself with feckless people, Barack Obama would not have had a second term. Unless brokenness is some sort of weird cult, there is no argument for either woman to be re-elected – but there is a reasonable chance both will be.
If that happens, Republicans will continue to lose elections for at least another two years and probably longer.