Updated Jan 26, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis calls for "new blood" at RNC

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is backing a change at the top of the Republican National Committee in Friday's election, telling conservative activist Charlie Kirk that he likes what he's hearing from challenger Harmeet Dhillon.

Why it matters: DeSantis is the only candidate currently polling in double digits against former President Trump among Republican voters.

  • His support for Dhillon, a lawyer from California, may not swing the RNC chair vote but is a sign that some in the GOP see an opportunity to break with Ronna McDaniel.
  • "We've had three substandard election cycles in a row," DeSantis told Kirk.
  • McDaniel was elected head of the RNC in 2017, overseeing the operation in the 2018, 2020 and 2022 cycles.

The other side: “I think there's a tendency to scapegoat or ignore the wins,” McDaniel told Semafor earlier in January.

  • “I mean, we defied history in 2018, picking up three Senate seats in a midterm year. We picked up 15 seats in 2020 in the House, which was unprecedented, and then this year, winning back the House.”

Between the lines: Some RNC members are publicly expressing concerns about another Trump candidacy in 2024, the New York Times reports.

The Times said just four of the 168 RNC members fully endorsed Trump, compared to 20 who oppose him and 35 others who want a contested race. (Others didn't reply.)

  • “This isn’t 2016,” said J. McCauley "Mac" Brown, the chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky. “People have moved on.”
  • “Did I vote for Trump in 2016? You bet. Did I vote for him in 2020? You bet ... Now, I don’t know," Delaware RNC delegate Hank McCann said.

The bottom line: The RNC's 168 members aren't representative of the broader GOP, Axios' Josh Kraushaar wrote in December.

Winning the RNC chairmanship is about catering to the interests and whims of at least 85 members — all of whom have agendas that go beyond simply advancing the interests of the Republican Party.
Go deeper