Reports indicate Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel could step down in the coming days, as former President Donald Trump signaled in television interviews and on online posts “some changes” and an incoming replacement.
McDaniel, in an “update” email to RNC members Wednesday, said she and her office are still hard at work, and “rumors to the contrary are simply not true.”
“Nothing has changed and there will not be any changes decided on until after South Carolina, when we may have our eventual nominee,” she said.
The New York Times, which first wrote about McDaniel’s plans to resign, reported that McDaniel told Trump her plans to step down during her meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. The same day, Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social, that McDaniel “is now Head of the RNC.”
But he said he will reveal his “recommendations for RNC Growth” a day after the South Carolina Primary, scheduled for Feb. 24.
If McDaniel steps down, Trump might tap North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley to lead the RNC, according to the report.
On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News, Trump said the chairwoman “did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK, initially, in the RNC,” before alluding, “there’ll probably be some changes made.”
RNC spokesperson Keith Schipper told CNN Tuesday night that “nothing has changed. This will be decided after South Carolina.”
After Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary in January, McDaniel called for the party to coalesce around Trump to successfully beat President Joe Biden.
McDaniel — a graduate of Brigham Young University and niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — has led the GOP since 2017, when Trump handpicked her to take the helm of the party. She has remained unfalteringly loyal to Trump but his base is growing sour on her. The party’s disappointing election record as of late is partly to blame.
As Axios reported, since McDaniel became the chairwoman in 2017, the party has underperformed in each election cycle, including Trump’s defeat in 2020 and the “red wave” that never materialized in 2022.
More recently, conservative organization Turning Point Action has leveled a campaign against the chairwoman by organizing the Restoring National Conference, the same initials as the RNC, for those who are unsatisfied with the RNC leadership.
“They lost in ’18. They lost in ’20. They lost in 2022. We have tried to reach out to them many times, and I’m not going to put up with another culture of losing,” said Charlie Kirk, the conservative group’s founder, at the conference in January.
The RNC hasn’t been successful with fundraising either. In 2023, the committee raised $87 million, with $8 million cash on hand, according to the end-of-the-year Federal Election Commission filing, marking some of the lowest numbers since 2016. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is much ahead, logging $119 million in money raised and $21 million in the bank, as per the FEC filing.
Apart from Whatley, who has backed Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen, South Carolina Republican Party chairman Drew McKissick and Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters are also being floated as potential replacements for McDaniel.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who retired from Congress a few months ago, is rumored to be the dark horse in this race. He has earned a sarcastic endorsement from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the man who led the House to oust McCarthy as speaker.
Republican National Committee for California Harmeet Dhillon speedily bowed out. “Each version of RNC Game of Thrones I hear is worse than the last one,” she said on X.
“To be clear, I’m not seeking the chair position. We had an election, I lost, shook the victor’s hand, and offered my support. But there are plenty of folks gunning for it.” Dhillon, who vied for the RNC chairmanship in 2023, added.
As CNN notes, a presidential nominee eventually takes over his party’s national committee. Trump is not yet the Republican presidential nominee, but he has exerted some influence on the RNC — whether it's setting a date to unveil “some changes” to his party’s national committee or meeting with McDaniel at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.
When asked if it was time for McDaniel to step down, Trump, in an interview with Newsmax Sunday, said, “I think she knows that, I think she understands that.”