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The Race for RNC Chair Just Got a Lot More Interesting

As we noted yesterday, most high-profile Republicans are staying out of this weekend's election for RNC Chair, preferring not to take sides between the two viable contenders: current chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and challenger Harmeet Dhillon. However, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is not in Washington, and so maybe didn't get the memo, because yesterday he endorsed Dhillon for the job.

DeSantis is trying to butter up far-right podcaster and conspiracy theorist Charlie Kirk, and so sat for an interview with Kirk yesterday. The Governor explained his support for Dhillon thusly:

I think we need a change, I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC, I like what Harmeet Dhillon said about getting the RNC out of D.C. I do think we need some fresh thinking. And practically you need grassroots Republicans to power this organization with volunteering and donations, and I think it's going to be very difficult to energize people to want to give money and volunteer their time with the RNC if they don't change direction.

In other words, DeSantis is already fine-tuning his 2024 message that, despite being a former member of Congress and current governor of the country's third-largest state by population, he is somehow an outsider who will stick it to the swamp rats.

Donald Trump, for his part, has declined to take sides among McDaniel, Dhillon and nobody-takes-his-bid-seriously Mike "MyPillow" Lindell. However, a sitting president is the unquestioned leader of his party. And when Trump was in the White House, he backed McDaniel, which means that she is basically "his" candidate, whether he likes it or not. So, while DeSantis has yet to attack Trump directly, he's now made McDaniel vs. Dhillon into a proxy war for Trump vs. DeSantis. It will be quite interesting to see how the voting turns out this weekend, and—by implication—how many of the 168 RNC members are no longer taking their cues from the former president. Or, by contrast, how few are taking their cues from the would-be challenger to the Trump throne. (Z)

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