GOP Representative Lee Zeldin, who came very close to disrupting Democratic government Kathy Hochul last month in the mostly blue state of New York, announced Wednesday that he is waiting — for now — to run for president of the Republican National Committee, in what would be a direct challenge to current RNC President Ronna McDaniel.
Zeldin, who has been considering a bid for the RNC seat for nearly a month, made his announcement on Twitter and in a statement.
“RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel should not be running for a 4th term. I will not be running for RNC Chair at this point with McDaniel’s re-election pre-baked by draft, but that doesn’t mean she should even run again. time the GOP elects new leadership! It’s time for fresh blood!” Zeldin wrote.
Zeldin’s decision comes as Republicans continue to lick their wounds after a disappointing result in the midterm elections, failing to gain control of the Senate, winning only a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, and important gubernatorial races and control of a handful of state legislative chambers, in what should have been a “red wave” election.
RNC CHAIRMAN MCDANIEL SEEKS FOURTH TWO YEARS OF STEERING GOP
And the defeat of GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker on Tuesday night against Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s high-profile second-round run has increased criticism of the Republican Party and McDaniel.
Zeldin, who emphasized crime in his campaign, lost to Hochul by six points in the New York showdown. It was the best showing by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the Empire State in 20 years since GOP Governor George Pataki won re-election.
Zeldin’s performance is credited with helping to propel Republicans to significant victories in U.S. House races in upstate New York, turning blue chairs red—which was a key factor in the GOP’s capture of the House majority.
WATCH: ZELDER CALLS GOP TO ‘RETOOL, TRANSFORM’ FOR 2024
Zeldin, a lawyer and officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, was first elected to the House in 2014, representing a Suffolk County congressional district that covers the eastern end of New York’s Long Island. Zeldin was a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump during Trump’s tenure in the White House.
Last month, McDaniel announced she would seek a fourth two-year term to head the National Party Committee, which is unprecedented in modern times.
After the 2016 election, a newly elected Trump chose McDaniel — who was the chairman of the Michigan GOP at the time — to head the national party committee. She was re-elected in 2019 and 2021.
The full RNC membership of 168 committee members will vote on the next chairman when the national party organization holds its winter meeting in Southern California next month. According to party rules, the top two posts must be held by one man and one woman. McDaniel’s camp recently released a list of more than 100 RNC committee members — far more than the number needed to secure re-election — who they said supported the incumbent chairman.
Zeldin argued in his statement that “change is desperately needed, and there are many leaders, including myself, who are ready and willing to act to ensure that our party restructures and transforms as the crucial elections approach, namely the 2024 presidential and congressional races.”
But he acknowledged that “the issue is that Chairman McDaniel’s re-election already seems pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, don’t and shouldn’t even matter.”
A spokesperson for McDaniel’s re-election bid pointed out to Fox News Wednesday morning that Nebraska GOP Chairman Eric Underwood has just endorsed McDaniel’s campaign for another two years, which they say brings 108 endorsements.
“I am honored to offer my support for her election and look forward to working with Ronna over the next 2 years to achieve our American (and Nebraska) First goals,” Underwood wrote in a statement.
But sources around Zeldin’s world continue to wonder how strong that support could be in a secret ballot and after Tuesday’s results in Georgia’s Senate election.
McDaniel currently has two challengers.
WATCH: HARMEET DHILLON ANNOUNCES RNC OFFER FOR FOX NEWS
Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer who is also a member of the RNC committee from California and who served as legal counsel to the Trump campaign, announced her bid Monday night on the Fox News Channel.
“Republicans are tired of losing, and I think we really need to radically reshape our leadership to win,” Dhillon said in an interview on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Dhillon told host Tucker Carlson “we really need to modernize to compete dollar for dollar with the Democrats in the way they raise money, the way they put their ballots in the ballot boxes.”
Last week, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who strongly supports Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen, announced that he would challenge McDaniel.
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Another Trump ally, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, has also said she is considering a chance to become president of the national party. And former Trump White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp, the wife of US Conservative Union leader Matt Schlapp, was also considering a bid for the presidency.
With McDaniel and her stated or potential challengers all associated with the former president, sources in Trump’s political orbit tell Fox News that as of now it is likely that the former president will remain neutral and not be in the running for RNC -chair.