February 3, 2023
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel isn’t letting Herschel Walker’s defeat in Georgia’s Senate runoff discourage her from running for re-election as RNC chair.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is highlighting her team’s ground game efforts on behalf of GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker and isn’t letting Walker’s defeat to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s crucial Senate runoff election set her back as she seeks re-election as RNC chair.

McDaniel, who last month announced she would seek a fourth two-year term steering the national party committee, which is unprecedented in modern times, spoke Wednesday in an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital.

“I’m certainly proud of Herschel Walker and the race he ran,” McDaniel said. “I spent a lot of time with him in Georgia, I was with him on Monday, and I know he worked very hard to serve the people of Georgia.”

McDaniel spoke on the day after the setback in Georgia, which boosted the Democrats to a 51-49 majority in the Senate, handing them control of committees, which makes it easier for the party to advance legislation and nominations to the Senate floor.

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Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks as (L-R) Republican National Committeewoman for Georgia Ginger Howard, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Walker’s wife Julie Blanchard and former South Carolina governor and former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley listen during a campaign rally Dec. 5, 2022, in Kennesaw, Ga.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks as (L-R) Republican National Committeewoman for Georgia Ginger Howard, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Walker’s wife Julie Blanchard and former South Carolina governor and former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley listen during a campaign rally Dec. 5, 2022, in Kennesaw, Ga. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The defeat in the crucial southeastern battleground state comes as Republicans continue to lick their wounds from a disappointing showing in last month’s midterm elections. They failed to win control of the Senate, secured only a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives and lost races for governor and control of a handful of state legislative chambers in what many party leaders predicted would be a “red wave” election. 

McDaniel is facing criticism over the GOP’s lackluster results in the Georgia runoff and in the midterms as she fends off challengers in her chair re-election bid.

Fox News asked whether she believes her RNC chair re-election bid could be hurt by Walker’s loss.

“I think anybody who knows what the RNC actually does understands that we build the infrastructure, we do the voter registration, we are doing community centers and outreach,” McDaniel said. “We build a road that the candidates drive on. We put the candidates in a position to win, but we don’t do the messaging for the candidates, and we don’t pick the candidates.

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“I think with the RNC’s record this cycle of turning out more than 4 million more Republicans, of winning statewide in almost every battleground state, proves that the turnout worked,” McDaniel added. She highlighted the national party committee’s get-out-the-vote efforts in Georgia and across the country during the 2022 election cycle.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel headlines the New Hampshire GOP's unity breakfast Sept. 15, 2022, in Concord, N.H.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel headlines the New Hampshire GOP’s unity breakfast Sept. 15, 2022, in Concord, N.H. (Fox News)

Pointing to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s of Georgia’s comfortable re-election victory last month, McDaniel argued, “We just have to understand why one Republican won in a state and one didn’t and that’s gonna come down to messaging. We’ve got to figure out why one Republican appealed to independents and another didn’t. But I think, from an RNC standpoint, we flipped the House and our ground game worked.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who announced Wednesday he wouldn’t challenge the chairwoman for now, argued in his statement that “McDaniel should not run for a fourth term. I won’t be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel’s re-election pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again. It’s time the GOP elects new leadership! It’s time for fresh blood!” 

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Zeldin, an ally of former President Donald Trump who came close to upsetting Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul last month in the heavily blue Empire State, pointed to “the disappointing results of every election during her [McDaniel’s] tenure, including yesterday in Georgia.”

Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York addresses supporters at his election night party Nov. 9, 2022, in New York, N.Y. 

Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York addresses supporters at his election night party Nov. 9, 2022, in New York, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The full RNC membership of 168 committee members will choose the next chair in a secret ballot vote when the national party organization holds its winter meeting next month in southern California. McDaniel’s camp recently released a list of over 100 RNC committee members — more than the simple majority needed to secure re-election — that it said were supporting the incumbent chair.

Following his 2016 election as president, Trump chose McDaniel, who at the time was the chair of the Michigan GOP, to steer the national party committee. She was re-elected in 2019 and 2021.

McDaniel currently has two challengers.

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Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney who is also an RNC committee member from California and who served as a Trump campaign legal adviser, announced her bid on the Fox News Channel Monday night.

Kristi Noem delivers a victory speech after winning re-election as governor.

Kristi Noem delivers a victory speech after winning re-election as governor. (KDLT)

“Republicans are tired of losing, and I think that we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win,” Dhillon said in an interview on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Dhillon told host Tucker Carlson “we really have to modernize to compete with the Democrats dollar for dollar in the ways they fundraise, the way they deliver their ballots to the ballot boxes.”

Last week, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who’s a strong supporter of Trump’s unproven claims the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen, announced he would challenge McDaniel.

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Another Trump ally, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, has also said she’s weighing a run for national party chair. And former Trump White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp, the wife of American Conservative Union leader Matt Schlapp, also mulled a bid for chair.

With McDaniel and her declared or potential challengers all having ties to the former president, sources in Trump’s political orbit tell Fox News that, as of now, it’s likely the former president will remain neutral and not weigh in on the race for RNC chair.