Outgoing Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York is not running for chairman of the Republican National Committee despite his name being floated as an alternative to RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
He pulled his name out of consideration on Wednesday, but said the RNC still needs someone new at the helm.
“Change is desperately needed, and there are many leaders, myself included, ready and willing to step up to ensure our party retools and transforms as critical elections fast approach, namely the 2024 Presidential and Congressional races,” he said in a statement. “However, the issue is 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.”
Many expected the New York Republican to throw his hat into the ring and challenge the three-term RNC chair after Republican Herschel Walker lost the Georgia Senate runoff election Tuesday night to Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.
The loss in Georgia gives Mrs. McDaniel’s opponents more ammunition to use against her after the expected “red wave” for Republicans never manifested in the midterms. The party won a slim majority in the House but failed to win back the Senate two years after former President Donald Trump lost.
Mr. Zeldin, who lost his bid for New York governor in the Nov. 8 election, said GOP voters are “frustrated, deflated and defeated. They are tired of coming up short like what happened again just yesterday.”
He said the Republican Party must become “more successful at fundraising, more efficient with spending, sharper with ballot collection and election integrity efforts, smarter with messaging, more present in Democrat strongholds, and more connected to the grassroots.”
“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,” he 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. Her greatest service to the Republican Party at this time would be to make room for a new chair.”
Others are looking to replace Mrs. McDaniel when the RNC meets in January to vote for a chairman.
California National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon announced her candidacy for RNC Chair on Monday during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“I think that we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win. And we can’t keep running elections like we did in the ‘90s and the 2000s,” Ms. Dhillon, who was a legal adviser to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign, said.
“We really have to modernize to compete with the Democrats dollar-for-dollar — in the ways they fundraise, the way they deliver their ballots to the ballot boxes. Our messaging needs to be fresh and positive and not just reactive to news cycles and what the Democrats are doing,” she said.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump ally, also announced he is running for RNC chairman.
Mr. Lindell, an outspoken proponent of charges that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, is under investigation by federal authorities for election tampering, and the FBI seized his phone in September.
The election for chair will be decided by a vote of the 168 RNC members, at their annual winter meeting in January in Dana Point, California.
Mrs. McDaniel’s supporters this week circulated a letter of endorsement from 107 RNC officials around the country.
“We, the undersigned members of the Republican National Committee, are proud to offer our endorsement for your re-election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. These are perilous times and the Biden presidency, abetted by the extremist consensus among Democrat Party elites and elected officials, has been, is, and will continue to be a disaster for our nation,” it said. “We believe we must elect a Republican President and more Republican Senators and House members in 2024 to restore, preserve, and protect the United States of America.”