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Tipsheet

Is This Why Harmeet Dhillon Fell Short in the RNC Chair Race?

Harmeet Dhillon

The election for the Republican National chair grew nasty towards its final weeks. Incumbent RNC chair Ronna McDaniel was elected to an unprecedented fourth term yesterday. However, these contests, which aren’t often exciting, became a focus of national attention after attorney Harmeet Dhillon decided to toss her hat in the ring to bring much-needed change to the organization after three consecutive election losses. The abysmal election performance of the GOP in the 2022 midterms, which was supposed to be a red tsunami, was the tipping point for many in the grassroots.

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Besides having a prime environment to clinch significant majorities in Congress with the Biden agenda creating high inflation and an economic recession, Democrats had a stroke victim—John Fetterman—running in one of their crucial Senate races. His mental impairments were painfully obvious, and he still won. The GOP couldn’t defeat a man who was unqualified and couldn’t string a coherent sentence together. I don’t know if that says more about the American electorate or the GOP. Either way, it was an embarrassing night. With congressional Republicans re-electing the same clowns who oversaw this political oil spill, the RNC chair election is at least one area where someone could be held accountable.

Dhillon isn’t a bad candidate, but her team might have been too aggressive, alienating potential RNC committee members. Anger and frustration are understandable, but it seems Dhillon might have been able to pull an upset if her crew were more disciplined. It at least wouldn’t have ended with McDaniel boat racing the rest of her challengers, the other being MyPillow’s Mike Lindell (via Politico): 

The at times fierce, two-month-long race sparked debates about how the RNC has managed its finances and fared in recent elections. It also saw some members — on both sides of the contest — publicly calling into question the character of their colleagues, putting McDaniel and her allies on the defensive and forcing the incumbent chair to assemble an aggressive whip operation to shore up her support. 

[…] 

Dhillon, whose firm represents former President Donald Trump, raised her profile over the last year with regular appearances on Fox News’ evening programs — garnering support in her bid for chair from a prominent cast of conservative commentators. That list included Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Charlie Kirk, who helped mobilize an army of grassroots activists to call and email RNC committee members, urging them to oppose McDaniel’s reelection. But those high-profile figures were not always a value add. 

On multiple occasions, on-the-fence members told Dhillon and her allies that they would be open to supporting her if Kirk weren’t one of her surrogates, said Oscar Brock, the national committeeman from Tennessee who was part of her team. Dhillon had assured concerned members that Kirk, a firebrand conservative figure, wouldn’t be part of RNC staff, should she win. But there was never a conversation among her whip team about asking Kirk to dial down his support.

[…]  

Kirk wasn’t the only Dhillon ally whose aggressive advocacy ended up turning off members of the committee. Caroline Wren, who most recently ran Kari Lake’s gubernatorial campaign in Arizona, got into a heated exchange with Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones on Thursday night in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria. 

According to three people familiar with the confrontation, Wren, who has been Dhillon’s top adviser in her campaign for chair, told Jones: “Everyone knows you’re here fucking whipping votes for Ronna.” She proceeded to call him a “fucking sell out,” adding that, “the grassroots will never support you again.” 

A person familiar with the conversation said Wren had also approached Jones two other times this week, once while he was speaking with an RNC member, during which she called him “the fucking enemy,” and another time as Jones was speaking with Lake, during which she called him a “sellout.” 

Wren confirmed she was frustrated with Jones because he had previously been a public supporter of Dhillon. But she downplayed the tenor of Thursday night’s conversation, saying she did not use profanity and adding that she even laughed at one point. Asked Friday about the encounter, Jones smiled and shrugged, saying “there’s not much more to say.” 

In addition to relying on prominent conservative figures, Dhillon’s whip team also held calls once or twice weekly, said Brock. But several committee members in recent days said that calls and emails from Dhillon’s team had become too much, eventually solidifying their support for McDaniel.

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The race is over—that’s the point. I don’t think the party should waste any more time on an autopsy here; it’s a chairmanship race. I also don’t think the establishment should use this to take cheap shots at the grassroots for their justified frustration over how the GOP has been run lately. This contest might not have been within reach for Dhillon, given that Ronna has touted the 107 members that had signed letters of intent supporting her fourth term. That figure turned out to be fairly accurate in the end. Could she have siphoned votes from McDaniel’s core group? Who knows, but if there’s one thing, we all know about this business it’s that disappointment is frequent.

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