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Lara Trump Is Reshaping the RNC

Although Donald Trump's daughter-in-law is only co-chair of the RNC, there is little doubt who is running the show—and it is not RNC chairman Michael Whatley, even though he was Trump's choice. It is Lara Trump. She is changing the RNC in radical ways since the departure of Ronna Romney McDaniel. In a recent interview with the AP, Lara said: "My No. 1 goal is making sure that Donald Trump is the 47th president." Under McDaniel and previous chairs, the goal was electing Republicans up and down the ballot.

Lara wasted no time copying her father-in-law's pugilistic style and brash approach to management. She also fired dozens of long-time staffers and sought alliances with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and alt-right types that McDaniel wouldn't have anything to do with. She has also promised 4 years of scorched-earth retribution if her father-in-law wins. She has inserted herself into the limelight much more than McDaniel, especially on far-right media outlets, and has been good at fundraising. Given how much of the campaign money is going to legal fees, the money is welcome. Trump hasn't done this kind of work before, but she says her background in Trump's previous campaigns is all she needs. She is also aware that she is in the crosshairs for a lot of people.

Another thing Lara Trump did is basically merge the RNC into the Trump campaign. Or, more accurately, make the RNC a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump campaign. This is the opposite of the way it used to be. Previously, the RNC was independent of the campaign and made its own decisions about which elections to pursue. That model is no more.

Former RNC Chairman Marc Racicot said of Lara Trump: "It kind of suggests an expectation of complete, unabashed and, perhaps, a blind loyalty to the candidate." Other insiders have other criticisms of the new RNC. The main ones include failing to build up a county-by-county infrastructure and putting far too much attention on the presidential race.

Another one concerns who the RNC is now partnering with. For example, she speaks highly of Scott Presler, an election denier who called the Jan. 6 insurrection "the largest civil rights protest in American history." The RNC is going to work with his Early Vote Action group on ballot harvesting.

Another group Lara Trump is working with is Turning Point USA, which is run by Charlie Kirk, a student organizer. Kirk has questioned whether Black pilots are qualified to fly and has derided gymnast Simone Biles after she withdrew from the Olympics. His group has raised $250 million, much of it going to Kirk, but his track record winning elections is weak.

One change that Trump is making that may actually be good for the Party is encouraging mail-in voting, something that her father-in-law says is rife with fraud. She believes it makes it easier for many Trump voters to vote. However, she opposes counting any ballots after Election Day. That is actually none of her business. Most states have laws saying that ballots postmarked before Election Day are valid, even if they arrive a few days later. It is not the voter's job to determine how much Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans on slowing the mail around election time. Stephen Richer, a Republican who runs elections in Maricopa County, AZ, said that Lara's policy would actually hurt Donald since in 2020, more Trump ballots than Biden ballots arrived after Election Day. He also said that fraud and voter suppression are at an all-time low and that the Trumps' insistence that elections are rigged brings up questions about their motivations.

Our take on Lara Trump's leadership is that it is going to hurt the Republican Party as an institution. She has little to no interest in things like control of the Arizona state legislature, where flipping two seats in each chamber would give Democrats the trifecta in the state. If the DNC spends $1 million in Arizona, it might be able to take over the state government and undo years of damage. The same thing holds for all other races up and down the ballot. The RNC is the only group that has funds that can be applied wherever they are needed to help Republicans, but this cycle, and perhaps going forward, it looks like it is going to spend every penny it gets on the presidential race. If Trump wins and faces a hostile Congress because the RNC dropped the ball, he is not going to get much done. You can't govern by XO (eXecutive Order). (V)

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