Ahead of Lee Zeldin's scheduled announcement on his plans regarding chatter of a run for RNC chairman on Wednesday, the Republican who surged GOP turnout in the Empire State in the midterms and came closer than any Republican in decades to unseating incumbent Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul is saying current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel doesn't have a sure path to reelection. And Zeldin isn't alone.
"We underperformed nationally," Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi lamented in a statement to The New York Post. "There were strategic missteps," Rinaldi said of the GOP's 2022 efforts that failed to deliver a nationwide red wave. "But in New York, Lee Zeldin went into communities that Republicans don’t traditionally go into and talked about crime and inflation. He overperformed in blue areas," Rinaldi explained. "He exceeded expectations."
Other state GOP officials have echoed similar sentiments, including Vermont RNC Committeeman Jay Shepherd:
I am one of 168 voting members of the Republican National Committee(RNC).I think Ronna has done a good job as our chair. However, I believe Congressman Lee Zeldin will do an exceptional job, So I will be supporting Zeldin for chair. Grassroots, I hear you.@leezeldin pic.twitter.com/R6Lp6psrGG— Jay Shepard (@JaytheShepard1) November 18, 2022
The Post quoted another RNC delegate, New Jersey's Bill Palatucci, who's backing Zeldin if he announces he does in fact decide to run. "I’m tired of losing," the New Jersey GOP official told the Post. "The number one job of the RNC chair is to win. We didn’t do well in 2020 and we didn’t do well in 2022. "You’ve got to fire the manager when the ball club doesn’t win."
Those officials are among the ranks set to choose the RNC's chair at the party's winter meeting next month, a group among which current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has said she already has 101 members pledged to her reelection effort, a number of delegates that, in theory at least, is enough to clinch reelection.
Zeldin, however, told the Post that McDaniel's claim isn't swaying his decision on whether to run for chair himself:
Zeldin said he was not intimidated, telling The Post a number of people who signed the letter called him afterward and said they were not committed to McDaniel — and were even misled into signing it.
“They don’t feel obligated to her,” Zeldin told The Post.
He also said a few of the signatories will be replaced as state GOP chairs and will not be able to vote for McDaniel.
“The letter did not have a deterrent effect on me,” Zeldin said.
Zeldin will make his announcement about the RNC leadership race on Wednesday morning after Tuesday's runoff election in Georgia.
In addition to Zeldin, the contest to the lead the RNC in 2023 and into 2024 could be even more crowded due to, as Vespa reported, California RNC Committeewoman and GOP super-lawyer Harmeet Dhillon announcing her run for chair of the RNC, along with Minnesota pillow magnate Mike Lindell who's also threw his long-shot hat in the ring.