Rep. Lee Zeldin won't run for Republican National Committee chair, trashes 'pre-baked' reelection of Ronna McDaniel




  • In Business
  • 2022-12-08 02:15:00Z
  • By NY Daily News
 

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said Wednesday that he won't run for Republican National Committee chair even as he fired off a new salvo at party boss Ronna McDaniel over mounting GOP losses.

Fresh off his better-than-expected losing campaign for New York governor, Zeldin called for new Republican leadership and denounced McDaniel for effectively short-circuiting a challenge.

"I won't be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel's reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn't mean she should even be running again," Zeldin said in a tweet. "It's time the GOP elects new leadership! It's time for fresh blood!"

Zeldin, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, pointed to the GOP's loss in the Georgia Senate runoff as a reason for Republicans to choose a different leader to direct the party's strategy and fundraising arm.

"(It's as) if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including (Tuesday) in Georgia, do not and should not even matter," Zeldin said.

Zeldin and McDaniel are both strong supporters of Trump, so it's not clear what different policies Zeldin would promote.

Republican insiders have long identified Trump's outsized control over the GOP's fundraising and flawed selection of candidates as a major albatross. They point to candidates like Georgia's failed Senate standard-bearer Herschel Walker as evidence that the party should distance itself from Trump.

Harmeet Dhillon, a California committeewoman, has said she will run to unseat McDaniel. Mike Lindell, the right-wing conspiracy theory backer and MyPillow.com businessman, has also suggested he will run.

Zeldin is considered a rising star in the GOP. He came within 6 percentage points of beating Gov. Kathy Hochul, bringing New York the closest it had come since 2002 to electing a Republican as governor.

Though Republicans performed well in New York congressional races, boosted by Zeldin's strong performance atop the ticket, they failed to meet expectations nationally, only narrowly winning the House.

The Democratic overperformance raised questions about McDaniel's performance. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a far-right Florida Republican, dubbed her "McFailure."

McDaniel, a close Trump ally, rose to her chair post in 2017. She has indicated she intends to run again in the RNC's internal January election.

The GOP is undergoing an internal struggle over its identity, as Trump stages a third straight run for the White House.

Some Republicans want their party to turn away from Trump and his divisive style, which they blame for Democratic successes in two straight midterm elections.

Zeldin, who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election and served as a longtime Trump loyalist, sought during the governor's race to downplay his ties to the former president, who endorsed him.

Still, Zeldin joined Trump for a fundraiser in September, as he worked to close a funding gap between his campaign's and Hochul's.

Zeldin lives in Shirley, Long Island, and was first elected to Congress in 2014. He said he held off announcing his bid for leadership until after election day in Georgia's Senate runoff.

Last week, he wrote on Twitter that Republicans should "campaign much harder in the cities," nodding to his surprising strength in some areas of New York City and its suburbs in the governor's race.

"It doesn't matter how deeply blue the city is or how convinced people are you will get creamed there," Zeldin tweeted. "Show up early and often, hit the issues hard, and generate the coverage that also reaches the neighboring suburbs as well."

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