On February 6, CNN reported that Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel offered to leave her position after the February 24 South Carolina primary. According to the article, McDaniel is planning to leave “to allow former President Donald Trump to install his own party chair,” though technically he could only endorse a candidate whom the committee would elect. According to the RNC, “Nothing has changed. This will be decided after South Carolina.”
A presidential nominee endorsing their own candidate for national committee leader is not unusual, reports CNN, but what’s unusual is Trump’s ability “to apply significant pressure to the party chairwoman whom he previously elevated” despite not yet being the nominee.
What’s missing from this picture is the pro-Trump media.
McDaniel’s pending departure is a huge victory for pro-Trump media, who primarily blamed her for the party’s poor performance in the 2022 midterm elections. Multiple right-wing media voices called for her resignation after, remarking that “anyone would be better than Ronna McDaniel.” And it wasn’t just scattered tweets; Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham also pushed for regular guest Harmeet Dhillon to replace her.
Although McDaniel survived that initial wave of criticism to win a fourth term at the head of the RNC, attacks from some pro-Trump media continued, and Trump himself grew “increasingly sour” on her leadership after 2023 losses. In November, John Solomon, a central figure in several waves of right-wing misinformation, went on Steve Bannon’s War Room to call the RNC “a cancer” and say that she should be removed.
Bannon has been a loud voice calling for McDaniel’s ouster, a turnaround from their pre-midterms relationship when McDaniel would use War Room to recruit poll watchers. Since then, Bannon frequently faulted McDaniel for mismanagement of funds and anemic data operations, culminating in Bannon’s appearance at a January Turning Point Action event.
“We’re not united,” Bannon told Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, “and the reason we’re not united is you just have horrible leadership at the RNC that’s just mismanaged things.” Bannon’s main complaint was that McDaniel’s RNC had neglected key data operations and “pissed away $350 million already on a phony primary” instead of focusing on the general election -- including on so-called “election integrity.”
Citing 2022 and 2024 RedState analyses of RNC spending, Kirk alleged that “the RNC’s spending more on flowers than on voter file maintenance,” encompassing the anti-McDaniel argument that her leadership neglects the infrastructure of elections. “Turning Point Action’s the new RNC,” Bannon said, because the group’s efforts to show “what the reality is on the data, and where the real votes are, should be done by the RNC.”
“If there’s not changes coming out of the RNC,” Bannon warned, “then I think it’s going to be tough” for Trump to win in 2024.
While it’s not yet clear who will replace McDaniel as RNC chair, it is all but certain they will be a staunch Trump ally, furthering Trump’s hold on the party. Bannon has already stipulated that “if you don't believe that Trump won in 2020” then “you shouldn't be a senior member of the RNC.” In what would be a step even further, Bannon and Kirk have openly wondered about literally bringing the party into the Trump family.
“My nominee to replace Ronna is Don Jr.,” Bannon said, “but my backup is Eric’s wife,” Lara Trump.