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Friday, November 25, 2022

OPINION:

Despite losing ground nationally in 2018, 2020 and 2022, and despite losing her own state of Michigan in the presidential contest of 2020, and despite losing both bodies of the Michigan Legislature this cycle, Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel is inexplicably running for reelection.

That, as the current occupant of the White House might say, is not a joke.


Perhaps worse than all that, until a few days ago, when Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York Republican, stepped up to the plate, Ms. McDaniel was running unopposed. Even now, there is still not a single state committee member — out of 168 souls — running against her to lead the party.

This awesome and incomprehensible lack of interest among party “leaders” in improving the national party and its constituent elements is part of a pattern. In 2020, in the actual wake of losing the presidency — including her own state — and Congress, Ms. McDaniel won reelection as chairman by 168-0.

That’s right; there were no dissenting votes, despite the electoral catastrophe over which she presided. Back then, there were some concerns raised about her capacity for impartiality, given that President Trump had installed her in 2016 and endorsed her in 2020. Apparently no one thought to ask about her basic competence.

In response, Ms. McDaniel graciously and repeatedly said that she would step down after two years. As witnessed by her current campaign, that seems unlikely to happen.

To be sure, some of the blame for the losses experienced under Ms. McDaniel attaches elsewhere. But it is beyond odd for a party apparatus that has underperformed in three successive election cycles to rummage through the cabinets and conclude that the leader they need is the one they have.

There has been no moment — at least in the last 100 years — when a chairman who has presided over so many electoral defeats remained in power, let alone do so unopposed. This is for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that in the wake of a defeat, the general and appropriate sentiment is that some sort of change is in order.

The bigger problem is, of course, the derangement of the national committee. What does one have to do to get ejected from this game by the dumpster fire that is the national committee? How many cycles does one have to lose? How many times must one throw up on their shoes before they are shown the door?

If reflecting on past performance is insufficient motivation for change, perhaps thinking about what lies ahead will. The RNC’s approval, yet again, of former President Donald Trump’s preferred candidate for the chairmanship would make it clear to the dozen or so other Republicans planning to run for president that the RNC will not be neutral in the 2024 race.

Surely Mr. Trump is aware of this. He knows that reinstalling the RNC chairman would give him control over the party’s apparatus, including fundraising, media and voter and donor databases. These will be most useful in running for president or even setting up electoral runs for the next generation of the family.

That’s why he endorsed Ms. McDaniel in 2020, and that’s why he is likely to endorse her again. The RNC should refuse to play along this time.

This has been said before, but it bears repeating: If you are giving your money to the RNC or any of its cognates, you are wasting it. You may as well just light it on fire. That will be especially true if Ms. McDaniel remains chairman.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, co-hosts “The Unregulated Podcast.” He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.


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