Goodbye, McDaniel: A New Chapter for the GOP


Ronna McDaniel, who has chaired the Republican National Committee (RNC) since 2017, is stepping down from her position. This move underscores the fact that nearly every political relationship with former President Donald Trump has a limited lifespan. Expected to replace McDaniel are Michael Whatley, the current North Carolina GOP Chairman, and Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law.

Despite being the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney and initially maintaining a positive relationship with Trump, McDaniel’s tenure as RNC chair was marked by navigating a complex dynamic with the former president. Trump’s advisors, rather than Trump himself, reportedly soured on McDaniel due to the RNC’s role in facilitating a neutral GOP primary, sparking tension between the two camps.

Former GOP operative Terry Sullivan commented, “It’s hard to see anyone in Trump orbit that has a permanent relationship… All relationships with Trump are one-way transactional and the day he decides that it’s no longer beneficial to him, folks are out the door.”

McDaniel’s resignation comes amidst various other departures from the Trump camp, including former chiefs of staff Reince Priebus and John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and a fallout with Vice President Mike Pence following the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.

Brian Hughes, senior adviser for the Trump campaign, thanked McDaniel for her service, noting that changes in leadership are typical as election cycles unfold. In a recent Truth Social post, Trump referred to McDaniel as a “friend,” indicating that he would make recommendations for RNC growth in the future.

McDaniel’s handling of the RNC’s role in the 2024 presidential primary, allowing other GOP candidates to compete against Trump, was particularly challenging. Despite Trump’s opposition, the RNC decided to hold primary debates in which Trump chose not to participate.

The RNC’s decision to pay for Trump’s legal fees also stirred controversy within the party. While the organization ceased payments when Trump became a 2024 presidential candidate, it had previously approved funding for legal fees, including those related to investigations into his business dealings.

Throughout her tenure, McDaniel worked to maintain the RNC’s integrity as a neutral body, often facing criticism from within the party. Despite the challenges, she remained steadfast in her commitment to the organization’s mission.

McDaniel’s political journey, from a stay-at-home mother to Michigan GOP chair in 2016 and eventually RNC chair, reflects her resilience and adaptability in the tumultuous world of politics. Her resignation marks the end of an era, highlighting the transient nature of political alliances, particularly those with Trump.

McDaniel’s resignation is seen by some as a reflection of the changing landscape within the GOP. With Trump’s influence still strong in the party, the selection of Michael Whatley and Lara Trump as her potential successors indicates a continuation of Trumpism within the RNC.

Despite criticism from some quarters, McDaniel’s defenders praise her for managing a challenging relationship with Trump during a volatile period in American politics. They argue that she was often unfairly blamed for the party’s losses, which they attribute to broader trends rather than her leadership.

However, critics argue that McDaniel failed to address the problems caused by Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies. They point to the 2022 midterms, where Republicans failed to win the House by a larger margin, as evidence of her inability to acknowledge the impact of Trump’s influence on the party.

Looking ahead, the RNC under new leadership will face the challenge of navigating the post-Trump era while retaining the support of Trump loyalists. The party’s ability to adapt to this changing landscape will determine its success in future elections.

Overall, McDaniel’s resignation highlights the complexities of political alliances and the challenges of leading a party divided by competing factions. As the GOP continues to evolve, the legacy of McDaniel’s tenure as RNC chair will be a subject of debate and reflection within the party for years to come.

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