‘It’s Getting Worse, Not Better’: Harmeet Dhillon On Why The RNC Needs An Overhaul

The national Republican Party apparatus is facing growing calls for an overhaul and, potentially, a change in leadership after underwhelming performances in federal elections since 2018.

Harmeet Dhillon is one of the GOP’s most prominent legal bruisers and a Republican National Committee (RNC) member from California. She is also one of the loudest voices for change in the Republican Party and has put up her own name to lead the RNC over the current chair, Ronna McDaniel.

“I think she’s well-intentioned, well-meaning, but, I’m sorry, after six years, it’s getting worse, not better,” Dhillon told The Daily Wire in an interview.

McDaniel took over the RNC with then-President Donald Trump’s backing in 2017. The next year, the GOP lost control of the House. In 2020, Trump lost the White House to President Joe Biden. Two months later in January 2021, two runoff elections in Georgia cost the GOP control of the Senate.

The Republican Party appeared to have strong advantages heading into the 2022 midterms: the economy was sagging, violent crime racked urban centers, and crises had enveloped the U.S. southern border. Polls said voters trusted Republicans over Democrats on key issues, most importantly the economy.

The GOP faced headwinds on issues such as abortion, but the party led Democrats in the weeks leading up to Election Day. A New York Times/Siena College poll had Republicans as 4-point favorites on the generic congressional ballot in mid-October.

After the 2022 midterms, Republicans were widely believed to have underperformed. The GOP took the House by only a slim margin and lost a slew of battleground races for the Senate, costing the party a seat in the final tally.

The results fell short of McDaniel’s predictions that Republicans would take the House by five seats and the Senate by one. While her House prediction was correct, her Senate guess was off by two and with great effect. The GOP fell to 49 seats, losing its 50-50 Senate split and its equal representation on committees.

McDaniel spokeswoman Emma Vaughn defended the RNC chair’s record in a statement to The Daily Wire.

“Just like the RNC, Chairwoman McDaniel’s decision to run for re-election was member driven. Members of the 168 rallied around the Chairwoman because of her unprecedented investments in the grassroots, election integrity, and minority communities, and for taking on Big Tech and the biased Commission on Presidential Debates,” Vaughn said, referring to the 168 RNC committee members who vote to pick the eventual RNC chair.

“Support for the Chairwoman has only grown since her announcement, and she looks forward to speaking with each and every member to discuss how the party can continue building upon our investments and make the necessary improvements to compete and win in 2024,” she said.

Dhillon said all the problems that have plagued the Republican Party in the past six years could make up “a graduate level seminar.”

Dhillon’s law practice is one of the GOP’s go-to firms for election-related cases. On election night last month, Dhillon was in Arizona with GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and U.S. senatorial candidate Blake Masters to watch the results roll in and potentially take legal action over suspected fraud or suspicious irregularities.

While she has been actively involved in making sure voting laws are enforced, she says the Republican Party needs to improve its voters’ trust in the electoral process. She also says that Republicans need to compete “using all legal methods of hustling ballots into the ballot box like the Democrats do. We need to do that.”

“For 30 years in California, we actually outperformed the Democrats all the years that no-excuse absentee balloting was legal – up until the time that we had this 2020 election and people got skeptical about the machines,” Dhillon said. “The same machines are going to count your vote if you’re going to vote in person versus you voting electronically.”

“When the base is resistant to that [messaging], and you’re not a strong leader, you don’t want to stand up and say, ‘Hey guys, if you want to compete, we have to do it this way,’ then we lose. We lose elections that way,” Dhillon continued. “There has to be just some straight talk from the party. We cannot pander to, you know, sort of vote on election day only when Democrats don’t do that.”

Another drag on Republicans’ 2022 performance was Democratic groups’ “hugely problematic” interference in GOP primaries to aid “candidates who are not a good fit for the districts that they’re running in,” the Republican lawyer said.

Democratic groups spent nearly $20 million across nine states amplifying certain candidates in GOP primaries, according to one analysis. Democrats spent money amplifying Republican candidates based on the calculation that those candidates would make easier general election opponents. That kind of interference must have a response, according to Dhillon.

“As a party, we keep saying, ‘Well, we can’t get involved in primaries.’ Well, if the Democrats are getting involved in our primaries, we damn well better be getting involved in our primaries,” she said.

The RNC is generally blocked by its own rules from interfering in Republican primaries. The committee may get involved in a competitive primary, however, if all RNC committee members from that state approve such involvement.

Dhillon also saw problems in Republicans’ tendency to support “celebrity candidates who are running for a very senior position for the first time in their lives. I think that’s often a mistake.” She said the party should also improve its programs for training candidates to run for political office.

The eventual RNC chair must receive a majority of votes from 168 committee members. A letter of McDaniel’s endorsements says she already has the support of 107 members, far more than she needs to secure a fourth term as committee chair. If she does win a fourth term, she would be the longest serving committee chair in more than a century.

Dhillon has been calling committee members as part of her run for chair and says that McDaniel’s vote count is inflated.

“Some of the names on her list are people who can’t vote because they’ll be termed out. Some of the names on her list are people who did not give their permission to be on that list. Some of the names on that list are people who gave their permission before they knew somebody else was running, and some of the people on that list have changed their minds,” she said.

Dhillon announced her decision to challenge McDaniel in a December 5 appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Dhillon is one of three challengers running to unseat McDaniel; the other two are My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and former Trump White House staffer Mike McKenna.

Dhillon is a longtime conservative activist who has held a number of influential roles within the Republican Party, including chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association, chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, and vice chair of the California Republican Party. Despite her long history in party politics, she has never been paid for her political work.

Becoming RNC chair would “be the first paid political job I’ve ever had in my life because I’m a lifetime volunteer. I do it because I love my country,” Dhillon said. “I would be giving up a busy law practice and non-profit to go do this, but I think it’s absolutely necessary because we’re not going to win in 2024 if we keep doing the same thing we did in the last three election cycles. That’s the reality.”

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