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My initial reaction and conclusion were wrong.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I was wrong about Ronna McDaniel. Since the election, I have been pretty vocal that, given the GOP record under her tenure, McDaniel needs to step aside or be pushed out of the RNC’s top spot.
I was wrong. I say this after too many conversations to count with politicians, candidates, and RNC committeemen and women.
The impression I get from people with a vested interest in the success of the RNC is that McDaniel has done the very best she could do under circumstances that are not favorable to the RNC and has managed to build up trust between the non-Trump and pro-Trump factions within the GOP in a way very few others could thread the needle and build the relationships.
Governors, senators, and congressmen I have talked to say the reality is that the RNC does not matter to them as much as the RGA, the NRSC, and NRCC, not to mention the various groups like the RSLC that focus on the state legislatures and RAGA that focuses on attorneys general races. A Governor who successfully got re-elected in 2022 told me, “The RNC helps at the margins in races like mine and they’re a resource we can call on for help, but my campaign operation won my race and would have with or without the RNC. The RGA played a bigger role. [The RNC] matters more at the presidential level.”
Among state committeemen and women for the RNC, they tell me the problem is not really Ronna and the RNC but at the state level. They point to the problems at the state GOP level in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. One committeewoman, who is not a Trump fan at this point, told me, “Ronna can’t fix Kelli Ward, but Ronna is fantastic at mitigating those types.”
Another pointed out my criticisms of the Georgia GOP Chairman. He told me, “Just look the shitshow in your own state. David did that, not Ronna. If you look at David or some of the clowns, Ronna has successfully walked a narrow path between defending Trump and not joining the circus. The critics may think she has, but compare her to some of the people we get on TV, and she’s done good keeping the party from becoming just a campaign arm of Trump despite what a lot of people think.”
There are a number of committee members who are open to change. A number of them do think Ronna McDaniel has served too long, and it is time for someone new. But they believe the current field is lacking. A handful said they really were hoping Lee Zeldin got in. Without someone like that and with Mike Lindell as one of the alternatives, they are with Ronna.
One person I spoke to also said he thought some of the behaviors of Ronna's opponents behind the scenes made it likely committeemen would support Ronna. He noted some got doxxed in an aggressive persuasion campaign, and it pissed those members off to the extent they locked in for Ronna.
The bottom line is this: even those within the RNC who are not Ronna partisans say she has done a really good job in difficult circumstances trying to balance the party and a very needy former President. She’s made it clear the RNC is separate and distinct from Trump. She has done a remarkable fundraising job. On all the core competencies the RNC Chairman must perform, all these people inside and outside the RNC tell me she has.
A senator familiar with the RNC operations told me, “You’re looking at the win-loss record. She doesn’t have a lot to do with that. She couldn’t do much there. What she could do, she did do, which is make the RNC financially competitive. That’s what the RNC chairman does. That’s what she did. Ronna McDaniel shouldn’t be expected to get a turd elected if Trump himself couldn’t do it.”
Notably, too, with the exception of Kristi Noem, none of the 2024 would-be contenders is calling for her to be ousted. There doesn’t seem to be, even among Trump competitors, a belief that Ronna McDaniel would steer the party in a partisan direction for the former president.
Upon further reflection, I was wrong, and Ronna McDaniel, as RNC Chair, works hard for the organization. But, again, I share the sentiments of several of those I talked to that she has severed for longer than most. She should make clear this is her last term