Harmeet Dhillon is calling for change in leadership at the Republican National Committee (RNC), saying she is ready to lead the party in a ‘fresh direction’ as she challenges incumbent chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
Dhillon, an accomplished attorney who has served as the RNC committeewoman in California for the last six years, has been vocal about the need for leadership change at the RNC and insists McDaniel’s support is ‘dropping.’
Speaking with Fox News Digital during an interview Thursday, Dhillon outlined her vision for the party and called for more interaction among those who serve in leadership roles and Republican voters as she lamented the recent losses the party has suffered.
‘I’ve really enjoyed being able to play a leadership role nationally in our party,’ Dhillon said. ‘But what’s been disappointing about the last six years is our failure to win elections during that time.’
The 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.
Pointing to upsets for the Republican Party in recent years, including the Georgia Senate runoff election losses in 2021 and 2022, Dhillon said, ‘We need a change at the RNC.’
Dhillon said she is looking to take the party in a ‘fresh direction,’ something she believes McDaniel, who has served in the role since 2017, is incapable of doing.
‘I would say she views her voters as the 168 members of the RNC,’ Dhillon said of McDaniel. ‘That’s what a lot of members say as well. Some of them have even contemptuously come out and said in the media, ‘We don’t care what the voters think. What do they know? We are the voters.’ So she hasn’t had to run a grassroots campaign. And I’m not running a grassroots campaign. I just happen to have grassroots support and that’s a big distinction. So people have organically decided they want to support me.’
Even with the setbacks for the GOP in recent history, McDaniel appears to have maintained a great deal of support from voting members of the RNC, several of which are tasked with selecting a new chair. Last month, in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital, more than half of the sitting RNC members pledged their support for McDaniel in her re-election bid.
‘We, the undersigned members of the Republican National Committee, are proud to offer our endorsement for your re-election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee,’ the letter, originally circulated by Republican National Committeeman from Illinois Richard Porter, reads.
However, earlier this week, the Texas State Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously to call for new leadership at the RNC, the Texas Tribune reported.
Dhillon, who told Fox she is witnessing a consistent uptick in support ever since she announced her candidacy, insists the support for McDaniel from voting members of the RNC came prior to her receiving a challenger.
‘Before there were any other people competing in the race, Lee Zeldin or others, she quickly got 100 people to sign on,’ Dhillon said. ‘But actually, when you call those people and ask them, some of them have said they don’t support Ronna. Some of them have said we supported Ronna when she was the only candidate in the race, we don’t support her now.’
After recent reports of voting members withdrawing their support from the current chair, Dhillon said she believes McDaniel’s ‘numbers are actually much lower than what she claims.’
‘I went from zero on Monday when I announced my race to several dozen pretty quickly and my numbers are rising. Her numbers are dropping,’ Dhillon said.
Dhillon said her work within the Republican Party has garnered numerous calls of support from concerned voters who are looking for ways to support her in the race to become the next RNC chair.
‘That’s one of the reasons I stepped up,’ she said. ‘I’ve been hearing it for six years, I’m not just suddenly paying attention. I’m one of those people. I have stood out in the rain and registered voters outside new citizen swearing in ceremonies.’
‘Until I leave the RNC and leave Republican leadership, I will always care, first and foremost, about what our voters think and [what] they want, and they don’t want what we’re selling right now,’ she added.
Dhillon said the ‘real sense of wanting to keep everything exactly the same at the RNC’ is a ‘problem’ for Republicans moving forward on a united front.
‘The party has not been a leader on hustling ballots into the boxes,’ she said. ‘We’re still talking about emotionally appealing to voters, buying very expensive ads, hoping that people will turn out on Election Day. Guess what? Democrats don’t do that. They get out there where ballot harvesting and early voting are legal, which is in most states now.’
Dhillon also said she believes Republican leadership has been ‘allowing Democrats to set the agenda’ as to ‘what our party stands for and what we’re doing.’
As for ways to advance, Dhillon said she wants to see more engagement with GOP voters from the RNC, specifically from the 168 voting members who she said ‘are kind of detached from the grassroots of the party.’
‘I’d love to see more engagement with our base of the party. The party’s base has changed. Some members of the RNC were elected during the Reagan era. I was a Reagan era Republican, as well. But this isn’t that party,’ she said. ‘This is the party of ordinary Americans. This is the party of blue collar workers. This is the party of people with dreams and a vision for the future. Democrats aren’t offering any of that.’
‘The vision we have and the promise we have as a party, our platform, what we stand for, is so superior to what the Democrats have to offer — Marxism, government handouts, open borders. There’s nothing attractive about it. Yet somehow they’ve been better at getting their candidates elected than we have. That’s a reality. It’s not about personalities. Ronna’s a wonderful person who’s done her best, [but] it hasn’t been enough. And whether it’s her fault or not, the fact is what it is. And to win elections, we’re going to have to change and adapt or die.’
In an effort to unite the party and serve as a voice for GOP voters across America, Dhillon faces opposition not only from members of her own party, but also the Democrats who are gearing up for the next round of elections in 2024.
In an interview released Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that Democrats will hold onto its majority in the Senate again in 2024 due to a number of crippling factors, including the ‘MAGA influence’ on the GOP.
‘Donald Trump did revolutionize this party in the sense that he was able to beat Hillary Clinton, the odds-on favorite, by really embracing the populist messages that continues to resonate with our base — even while Trump is not the president. I think we’re an America first party now,’ Dhillon said. ‘So Chuck Schumer, however, would have used the same type of attack no matter who the nominee or the president was, whether it was the Jeb Bush wing of the party, which is kind of the older wing of the party, old school wing of the party, or this populist wing of the party.’
‘If Mike Pence were the nominee, if Ron DeSantis were the nominee in 2024, they’d find some slur to apply to them,’ she added. ‘I think we have to just be happy warriors and not be distracted by the messages of the left and keep marching on.’
When asked about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become the next House speaker, Dhillon said she believes he is struggling to secure the position due to a ‘fractured’ party and a slim voting margin.
‘One reason he’s having difficulty is he only has a five vote margin, and that is back to the failures that I was talking about earlier,’ she said. ‘If Kevin McCarthy had the red wave that we were hoping for and I’m sure he was working for and we were all working for, this would be a nonstarter. I think he would easily be sailing into victory, but it’s actually kind of the same thing as at the RNC. We’re fractured as a party because of the losses.’
‘People question leadership that when it had power did not lead,’ she continued. ‘I think we saw that in the 2017 and 2018 Congress, we had all three houses of government at that time. We did not lead on these big tech issues, which is an issue that’s been dear to my heart for over a decade. We did not lead on closing the border. We did not lead on putting America first.’
Dhillon said she believes some Republicans may be questioning McCarthy’s ability to serve as speaker due to the problems the party has faced in recent years and that they are reflecting on ‘what has he done when he’s had opportunities’ to lead the party.
Dhillon said she would rather have a ‘Republican as a speaker than a Democrat or a compromised candidate’ and that she hopes the ‘big boys and girls in the United States Congress figure it out behind closed doors and get behind the leader.’