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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Nina Lakhani

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel announces resignation

woman waves on a stage
Ronna McDaniel in Washington DC in 2022. McDaniel was handpicked by Donald Trump as RNC chair after she oversaw his victory in Michigan in the 2016 election. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

The chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) plans to stand down beginning next week, paving the way for a slate of Donald Trump loyalists to lead the party in the run-up to the November general elections.

Ronna McDaniel announced her decision to step down just days after the former president endorsed the North Carolina Republican party chair, Michael Whatley, to lead the RNC; his daughter-in-law Lara Trump to be its co-chair; and his close campaign aide Chris LaCivita as the party’s chief operating officer.

McDaniel’s decision to step down on 8 March comes less than 48 hours after Trump’s resounding victory in the South Carolina primary over the state’s former governor Nikki Haley, virtually guaranteeing his place as the Republican presidential nominee.

The RNC elections will give Trump an opportunity to underline his influence over the party, adding further pressure on Haley to step aside. Trump’s popularity among the Republican base remains solid, despite facing a slew of criminal and civil legal battles in multiple jurisdictions.

In a statement, McDaniel, 50, who was the first woman to lead the RNC, said it had been an “honor and privilege” to serve as chair for seven years, but she was stepping down to allow Trump to “select a chair of his choosing”.

“Some of my proudest accomplishments include firing Nancy Pelosi, winning the popular vote in 2022, creating an Election Integrity Department, building the committee’s first small dollar grassroots donor program, strengthening our state parties through our Growing Republican Organizations to Win program, expanding the Party through minority outreach at our community centers, and launching Bank Your Vote to get Republicans to commit to voting early,” she said.

McDaniel’s announcement was first reported by the New York Times on Monday.

The election integrity unit was created in 2020 as Trump and his allies pushed the election fraud big lie, which remains a key issue in 2024 despite having lost dozens of lawsuits and no evidence of widespread fraud.

McDaniel was handpicked as RNC chair by Trump after she oversaw his victory in Michigan in the 2016 election. McDaniel replaced Reince Priebus, who became the first chief of staff at the White House, and was re-elected three times. But McDaniel’s days appeared numbered after Trump was lukewarm about her performance on Fox News earlier this month. “I think she did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK initially in the RNC,” Trump said in the interview. “I would say right now there’ll probably be some changes made.”

Trump’s about-face towards McDaniel, who is among a diminishing number of people he has not attacked on social media, came after months of pressure from his rightwing media allies and activists who blamed the RNC chair – not the former president – for the party’s poor performance in the 2022 midterms.

According to the Times, Trump has reportedly pushed McDaniel to cancel the primary debates – which she refused to do – and even the primaries themselves, which she does not have authority to do. Publicly at least, Trump ire’s has been mostly directed towards Haley for refusing to stand aside and leave him as the uncontested Republican candidate.

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