Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has just dealt a massive blow to the embattled head of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Ronna Romney McDaniel.
Ahead of the looming vote, DeSantis endorsed McDaniel’s challenger Harmeet Dhillon during a new interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
DeSantis called for change at the top of the RNC ahead of the vote to determine who will lead the organization.
“I think we need a change, and I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC,” DeSantis said.
“I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC outside of DC – why would you want to have your headquarters in the most Democrat city in America?
“We’ve had three substandard election cycles in a row – ’18, ’20, and ’22.
“And I would say of all three of those, ’22 was probably the worst given the political environment of a very unpopular President in Biden.
“Huge majorities of the people think the country is going in the wrong direction.
“That is an environment that is tailor-made to make big gains in the House, in the Senate, and in State Houses all across the country, and yet that didn’t happen.
“And in fact, we even lost ground in the US Senate,” he said.
This endorsement comes at a terrible time for McDaniel as the 168 members of the RNC are in Dana Point, California for a summit that will end with the vote for its next leader tomorrow.
To make it worse for McDaniel, President Donald Trump, who she desperately needed to back her, refused and said the two should fight it out.
If she survives the vote, McDaniel will be mortally wounded because the two frontrunners for the GOP nomination, Trump and DeSantis, refused to back her.
According to Politico, the vote is coming down to the wire:
As one GOP operative attending the meeting put it, RNC members have “historically backstabbed each other” on secret ballots, citing past races for lower leadership positions where candidates found out the hard way they didn’t have the votes that they were promised.
Oscar Brock, the national committee member from Tennessee and a member of Dhillon’s whip team, worked committee colleagues from the lobby of the resort Wednesday evening, keeping a mental list of potentially undecided members to speak with.By his count, as many as 30 members remain on the fence in a race where the winner will need a majority — at least 85 of the 168.
Caroline Wren, a Republican strategist running Dhillon’s chair campaign, said Wednesday night that Dhillon “needs to sway at least 12 more people,” but noted she had well over a day to do so and had just given an “incredibly moving speech” about her immigrant background to members in a closed-door candidate forum that evening.
Roger Villere, the national committee member from Louisiana, told POLITICO he spoke with three members Wednesday who had changed their vote to Dhillon, but did not specify who.
“I think Ronna still has the edge, but Harmeet is still in the fight,” Brock said with a smile. “There are the saints, the sinners and the savable.”
…Both Dhillon and McDaniel are set to hold late-night informational receptions for members ahead of Friday’s vote.
New: Ron DeSantis seems to endorse Harmeet Dhillon for RNC chair. “I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC,” he says to Charlie Kirk. (Trump has still mark publicly weighed in.) pic.twitter.com/AnaG32NZRa
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) January 26, 2023
DeSantis is backing a change at the top of the Republican National Committee, telling conservative activist Charlie Kirk that he likes what he’s hearing from challenger Harmeet Dhillon. https://t.co/5PcbQi9kxi
— Axios (@axios) January 26, 2023