WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee is hoping for a quiet meeting this week in California, but divisions among Donald Trump supporters over party leadership could fuel potential divisions within the GOP.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, seeking her fourth term, is being challenged by two ultra-conservative supporters of Donald Trump, attorney Harmeet Dhillon and MyPillow founder and salesman Mike Lindell.
McDaniel is the favorite, but her detractors could add to the resentment within a party split over the disappointing 2022 congressional election and facing a brutal 2024 presidential contest involving Trump and other Republicans who feel the party is past the ex-president must come.
The Republican National Committee will hold elections for presidents and other top positions on Friday, concluding its three-day series of meetings at a beach resort in Dana Point, California.
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Who is Ronna McDaniel?
Leading up to the winter meeting, McDaniel predicts victory by saying she has the support of over 100 members of the 168-member RNC. “
McDaniel was handpicked by Trump for the job after the 2016 election, saying the party has improved its voting programs, coalition-building and communications during her wait.
Trump has yet to endorse McDaniel for a fourth term. The former president, who will be in New Hampshire and South Carolina’s 2024 campaign this weekend, has also said nice things about Dhillon, saying she’s been doing legal work for him.
Who is Harmeet Dhillon?
Harmeet Dhillon, the managing partner of Dhillon Law Group, has previously appeared on TBEN News in support of Trump.
In an email to RNC members, Dhillon asked if Republican candidates “are comfortable with the status quo and the RNC’s track record over the past few years helping our candidates win?”
McDaniel and Dhillon have also sought support from Republicans skeptical of Trump.
Who is Mike Lindell?
Lindell, an outspoken 2020 election denier who promotes false claims of voter fraud, is an underdog in the seat race. He also says that, with three candidates, the race could go to multiple ballots.
“There will be multiple votes, and there will be a three-way race, and we will all stay in until someone gets to 85,” Lindell told the Insider website.
The number 85 is a majority of the 168-member RNC.
What are the problems facing the GOP?
Quarreling Republicans are coming off a disappointing run of elections last year, including a failure to win back the U.S. Senate from the Democrats.
The GOP did win control of the U.S. House, but only by nine seats. (The narrow margin allowed a group of about 20 conservatives to postpone the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, the most public example of party divisions).
After the poor election results, some Republicans blamed Trump, while others blamed individual candidates. Still others pointed the finger at the Republican National Committee led by McDaniel.
The RNC meeting in California also aims to set party rules, pass resolutions and generally prepare for primaries and general elections in 2024.
This year’s agenda is not expected to be contentious – unlike last year.
At their 2022 winter meeting in Salt Lake City, a divided party voted to disapprove of two House Republicans — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — participating in a congressional inquiry into the January 6, 2021 pro-Trump insurgency.
The Republicans also plan to maintain a traditional schedule for the 2024 primary. While the Democrats are in the process of changing their calendar, the Republicans plan to go ahead with the Iowa caucuses.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Under Trump’s shadow, the Republican Party meets to elect a leader