DeSantis Airs Out Grievances with RNC, Chimes in on Who Should Be Chair


Count Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among those who think there needs to be change atop the Republican National Committee after the red wave turned into a red trickle.

In an interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk published Thursday, DeSantis said “we need a change” at the RNC — and endorsed lawyer and former Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon to replace current chair Ronna McDaniel when the party votes Friday.

“We’ve had three substandard election cycles in a row — ’18, ’20 and ’22,” DeSantis said, when asked about who he supported.

“Huge majorities of the people think the country’s going in the wrong direction. That is an environment that’s tailor-made to make big gains in the House and the Senate — and the state houses all across the country.

“Yet, that didn’t happen,” he added. “In fact, we even lost ground in the U.S. Senate.”

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While it’s worth noting that the GOP picked up seats in the Senate during the 2018 midterms, that was due to a favorable map — and they arguably should have won races in Arizona, Montana, Nevada and West Virginia, where Democrats emerged victorious. The Republicans lost the House of Representatives, however.

In both 2020 and (especially) 2022, Republicans under-performed in myriad ways at the ballot box even though they won back the House this past November — if only by the slimmest of margins.

McDaniel has been the chair of the RNC since 2017, meaning she’s been at the helm for all of this.

Dhillon, an activist lawyer and co-chair of Women for Trump during the 2020 campaign, is one of two candidates challenging McDaniel for a fourth term. (Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and another conservative activist, is described by ABC News as mounting “a long-shot bid.”)

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At least in DeSantis’ book, Dhillon deserves a look.

“I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC,” DeSantis told Kirk. “I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of D.C. Why would you want to have your headquarters in the most Democrat city in America?”

He added that it was “going to be very difficult to energize people to want to give money or want to volunteer their time with the RNC if they don’t see a change in direction.”

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DeSantis’ praise of Dhillon could spark a change in the RNC race. While she’s picked up endorsements, according to The American Conservative, those have mostly come from state party chairs (Arizona’s Kelli Ward, Texas’ Matt Rinaldi and Virginia’s Morton Blackwell, among others) or politicians who have fought the GOP establishment, like U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna of Florida.

Gaetz, in particular, has been outspoken in his criticism of party leadership, dubbing three individuals in particular — McDaniel, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — as representing “McFailure.”

Gaetz was arguably the face of populist opposition to Kevin McCarthy taking the speaker’s gavel — and while that attempt to preclude his ascension eventually McFailed, the McCarthy speakership is likely to look a lot more conservative for the effort.

However, as Politico noted, “DeSantis’ support for Dhillon is the most high profile so far” and “scrambles [the] RNC race” at the last minute.

DeSantis was also the most prominent winner on election night, beating challenger Rick Scott by nearly 20 points and even turning typically blue urban areas red, despite running their campaign without the committee’s help.

“We actually ran our election assuming we weren’t going to be involved with the RNC at all, ” he told Kirk. “They weren’t raising the type of money that they needed to be raising, so our get out the vote, our ground operation — we funded that.”

Along with New York, Florida is one of the states where the predicted red wave actually took place — and it put DeSantis in the driver’s seat as the most plausible Republican challenger for the presidency who isn’t a former president.

What’s more, he’s not just a state party chair or an activist legislator. DeSantis is the most prominent non-Trump Republican there is. If he says there needs to be a change at the top, rest assured, he has the attention of those casting their votes on Friday.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture