RNC chair Ronna McDaniel to step down after Super Tuesday

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has already endorsed North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley as his choice to succeed her

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 26 February 2024 13:48 GMT
Related: Donald Trump celebrates after winning South Carolina primary

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has announced that she will step down from the position on 8 March, three days after Donald Trump takes on challenger Nikki Haley on Super Tuesday.

“The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee and it has always been my intention to honour that tradition,” Ms McDaniel said in a statement.

“I remain committed to winning back the White House and electing Republicans up and down the ballot in November.

She continued: “It has been the honour and privilege of my life to serve the Republican National Committee for seven years as chairwoman to elect Republicans and grow our Party.”

She indicated she would formally tender her resignation at the party’s upcoming spring training meeting in Houston, Texas, to “allow our nominee to select a chair of their choosing”.

Ms McDaniel, the niece of Utah senator Mitt Romney, was personally chosen by Mr Trump for the role in the aftermath of his 2016 election win and she has led the RNC for seven years since but is understood to have recently suffered a deterioration in her relationship with the former president, who looks all-but-certain to secure the Republican presidential nomination again this year after winning his fourth straight primary in South Carolina on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump formally endorsed North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley as his choice to succeed her in the role.

The candidate also proposed his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as the RNC’s co-chair and his joint campaign manager, Chris LaCivita, as chief operating officer – representing a near-total potential Maga takeover of the Republican Party’s organising committee.

“I think my friend Michael Whatley should be the RNC’s next leader,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

“Michael has been with me from the beginning, has done a great job in his home state of North Carolina, and is committed to election integrity, which we must have to keep fraud out of our election so it can’t be stolen.

“My very talented daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has agreed to run as the RNC co-chair. Lara is an extremely talented communicator and is dedicated to all that MAGA stands for. She has told me she wants to accept this challenge and would be GREAT!”

Donald Trump and Ronna McDaniel
Donald Trump and Ronna McDaniel (AFP/Getty)

South Carolina Republican Party chairperson Drew McKissick and Florida Republican National Committee member Joe Gruters had also been mentioned as possible successors, but Mr Trump’s opinion is likely to carry the most sway over the committee’s 168 members and he was always set on Mr Whatley after he supported Maga’s bogus election fraud narrative in 2020.

Mr Whatley has since acknowledged that Joe Biden is the country’s legitimate president, however.

The Trump wing of the GOP is understood to have grown increasingly dissatisfied with Ms McDaniel’s leadership ever since its poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections, with subsequent fundraising shortfalls piling on the pressure from donors, activists and aides for her to resign.

The RNC has lagged behind the Democratic National Committee in whipping up donations in recent years, a symptom of both Ms McDaniel’s inability to raise larger sums and Mr Trump’s dominance of the playing field as he and his Save America PAC vacuum up the lion’s share of donations, including from small-dollar supporters, with the former president having to bankroll not only his campaign but also his numerous legal battles in New York, DC, and Georgia.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has experienced a net loss of seven governorships, three Senate seats and 19 House seats throughout her tenure at the helm.

The rift between Mr Trump and Ms McDaniel grew last summer over the question of the party’s primary debates, according to The Washington Post, after the former refused to join his fellow contenders on stage and she leaves the post on a decidedly sour note, despite years of dogged loyalty.

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