Republican Lee Zeldin — whose efforts in New York during the midterms brought him closer than any member of his party in decades to winning the governor's race and flipped enough U.S. House seats red to deliver the GOP's narrow majority — announced that he would not be running for the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Zeldin's decision to remain out of the contest this time around, however, does not mean he believes current RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel should keep the job, Zeldin explained in a tweet on Wednesday morning. "I won't be running for RNC Chair at this time," Zeldin said, explaining that McDaniel's reelection is "pre-baked by design," but called for the GOP to elect "new leadership" because it's "time for fresh blood."
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel should not run for a 4th term.— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) December 7, 2022
I won’t be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel’s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again.
It’s time the GOP elects new leadership!
It’s time for fresh blood!
As Townhall reported on Tuesday, more than 100 RNC members of the 168 total signed a letter endorsing McDaniel's reelection as RNC chair, part of the "pre-baked" design Zeldin pointed to in his decision not to run against the current chair.
Zeldin's full statement explained that "change is desperately needed" at the RNC "to ensure our party retools and transforms as critical elections fast approach, namely the 2024 Presidential and Congressional Races." Zeldin again reiterated that he is "committed to doing absolutely everything in my power to help save our country with every ounce of my energy" even if "Chairwoman McDaniel's re-election appears to already be pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter."
During his conversations with RNC members as he considered challenging McDaniel's reelection, Zeldin said he found that "the grassroots is frustrated, deflated and defeated. They are tired of coming up short like what happened again just yesterday," he explained before warning of the message he says the RNC will send by reelecting McDaniel. "Republican voters already believe that Washington, D.C. is an irredeemable swamp. They will be proven right, yet again, if Chairwoman McDaniel moves forward with running for a fourth term, despite her prior pledge not to do so," Zeldin said.
"The better path forward would be for Chairwoman McDaniel to listen to and respect the wishes of the actual grassroots voters of our party, and allow the RNC to forge ahead with new leadership," Zeldin said of what is otherwise her "pre-baked" reelection to another term. "Her greatest service to the Republican Party at this time would be to make room for a new Chair."
Read my full statement: pic.twitter.com/k9nHaG8GCT— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) December 7, 2022
Zeldin's decision not to challenge the incumbent Republican Party chair means the contest (for now) pits McDaniel against California RNC Committeewoman and GOP super-lawyer Harmeet Dhillon who announced her run earlier this week on Tucker Carlson's Fox News Show:
Thank you @TuckerCarlson for having me on tonight to announce that it’s official, I’m running to be the chairwoman of the RNC!— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) December 6, 2022
We’re tired of losing. It‘s time for us to win! pic.twitter.com/jzWWqlV6xQ
The 168 members of the RNC will vote to choose the Republican Party's chairman when they gather at their Winter Meeting in January.