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OPINION

The Republican Party Must Adapt to Win

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Harmeet Dhillon

The election for RNC Chairman on January 27 will be a referendum on two of the Republican Party’s foundational ideals: personal responsibility and accountability. After six years of losses and increasingly alienated voting and donor bases demanding change, our party needs fresh leadership, new vision, and fundamental changes to fulfill our promise to stakeholders. 

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With over 35 years of service and success in the conservative movement, I’m running for Chair of the RNC because the GOP must change or be relegated to permanent also-ran status. I’m committed to redefining what we count as success – and it isn’t more attempted voter contacts – it’s actually winning elections. 

Democrats have out-raised us, out-organized us, out-performed us, and even out-lawyered us, consistently for years. Meanwhile, our base – the voters who knock on doors and write the small-dollar checks, are demoralized. Larger donors we count on to fund major programs have clearly expressed their support for change at the RNC too.

My first priority as RNC Chair will be to earn back the trust of our base through transparency and by applying the kind of fiscal conservatism that was once our hallmark. 

I will direct an immediate audit of the Committee’s spending and disclose the results to all RNC members. Recent media reports have shown millions of our voters' hard-earned dollars spent on items such as flowers, luxury travel and staff retreats, donor trinkets, and even yoga wear and golf gear, with no noticeable impact on our electoral success. 

Worse is the tight clique of vendors who get paid tens of millions of dollars per cycle, win or lose, who resist change, who refuse even to prioritize our values, much less deliver results. When our consultants are incentivized by volume and not winning elections, when we don’t have competitive bidding for important party needs, we get the worst of crony capitalism.

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We must attract and retain excellent staff at the RNC using competitive salaries and win bonuses, while at the same time eliminating conflicts of interest such as dual employment/consulting roles. Vendors must regularly compete for their contracts and be rewarded for benchmarked results, not volume.

Democrats are spending heavily on data and social media. While the Republican Party has made strides by consolidating data in a single vendor, the accuracy of our modeling requires improvement and more integration with field intelligence. If we cut the fat in party spending, we could invest far more into both data and field operations – and we must, because without accurate data we waste precious campaign resources targeting the wrong voters.

Dollar for dollar, influencers and other innovative strategies will reach far more voters than legacy ad buys – though they might not earn fat commissions for political consultants. When we don’t have the White House, it’s the RNC’s responsibility to speak clearly about our party’s core principles and try to reach as many new voters as possible. It is essential that the party use social media to reach young voters and new communities of voters – voters we need to maintain our ability to compete and win elections. 

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As an election lawyer, I understand the critical importance of the legal battle for electoral integrity. Under current leadership, the RNC was caught flat-footed in 2020—and, inexcusably, remained unprepared in 2022. If Democrats are voting for 30 days and Republicans for a day or a week, we have already lost before the ballots are counted. I will create a new director-level department of year-round Election Operations at the RNC to ensure that we are training our field staff to excel at early voting and commit to making the necessary investments to do so.

We must develop a deeper legal talent bench. While Democrats have favored law firms with unlimited budgets, the RNC’s legal network is ad hoc, and it will take years of sustained investment and commitment to overtake the left’s advantage. As Chair, I will ensure that our legal forces are effective, focused, proactive – and well-funded.

I’ve been honored and humbled by the outpouring of support for my candidacy. I’ve received the public backing of dozens of members of the RNC, major party donors such as Bernie Marcus, and Dick Uihlein, and Murph Burke, grassroots activists, members of Congress, and encouragement from the top figures in conservative media. We gain support daily, and Republican voters overwhelmingly support change at the RNC.

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Our GOP voters are suffering from crime and inflation, attacked for their patriotism and traditional beliefs, oppressed by a government and culture that seek to silence them, and their sons and daughters serving in uniform are at risk. They look to us to lead the party to victory. We cannot let them down. We need a strong, effective Republican Party to fight for them—and for our country. And that requires accountability—and change—at the top.

Harmeet Dhillon is a Republican National Committee member from California running for RNC Chair.

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