Lee Zeldin for RNC Chairman Gains Momentum as Activists, Donors Express themselves Ronna McDaniel

Prominent elected Republicans, influential donors and conservative grassroots activists are pushing for Lee Zeldin to become the next Republican National Committee chairman — including the Texas GOP chairman, who credited Zeldin’s powerful campaign for New York governor with securing Republican control of the House of Representatives.

“We performed below average nationwide. There were strategic missteps,” Texas Republican Party leader Matt Rinaldi told The Post on Thursday.

“But in New York, Lee Zeldin went to communities where Republicans traditionally don’t go and spoke about crime and inflation. He excelled in blue areas. He exceeded expectations.”

Zeldin lost to Democrat Kathy Hochul by just over 327,000 votes out of more than 5.7 million votes cast – and his strong showing at the top of the ticket in the battlefield suburbs helped Republicans win four more seats in the New York House of Representatives win to push the GOP past the 218-seat benchmark.

“Lee Zeldin gave us the majority in the House of Representatives and he wasn’t even RNC chairman,” Rinaldi said. “Imagine what he can do when he’s the RNC chairman.”

Rinaldi says it’s time for RNC incumbent chair Ronna McDaniel to move on after failing to deliver an expected red wave in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Rep. Lee Zeldin is being pushed by GOP activists and donors to become the next Republican National Committee chair.
Rep. Lee Zeldin is being pushed by GOP activists and donors to become the next Republican National Committee chair.
Matthew McDermott

“If you don’t live up to expectations — 16-0 — and go 8-8, you fire the coach,” Rinaldi said, using a football analogy that his fellow Texans will certainly approve of.

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell announced his own candidacy for the RNC chairmanship on Monday, though his bid is widely seen as a long way down the road.

Rinaldi said the activist class of the GOP is broadly behind Zeldin and the party leadership needs to be aware of that support.

Zeldin hasn’t officially thrown his hat in the ring, but has expressed an interest in a Nov. 17 letter to RNC members. To remove McDaniel, who has been in office since 2017, Zeldin would need the support of 86 of the committee’s 168 voting delegates.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has fallen out of favor with prominent GOP officials and donors after the party's poor showing in the midterm elections.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has fallen out of favor with prominent GOP officials and donors after the party’s poor showing in the midterm elections.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Jay Shepard, an RNC delegate from Vermont, tweeted November 18 in reply to Zeldin’s letter: “I am one of 168 voting members of the Republican National Committee (RNC). I think Rona [McDaniel} has done a good job as our chair. However, I believe Congressman Lee Zeldin will do an exceptional job, So I will be supporting Zeldin for chair.”

An RNC delegate from New Jersey, Bill Palatucci, told The Post he’s in Zeldin’s corner if he runs.

“I’m tired of losing. The number one job of the RNC chair is to win. We didn’t do well in 2020 and we didn’t do well in 2022,” said Palutucci, a confidante of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “You’ve got to fire the manager when the ball club doesn’t win. I spoke to Lee. He ran a great race for governor in a tough state. I told him if he runs I’ll support him.”

Arizona conservative activist Tyler Bowyer tweeted the day after Zeldin’s letter: “Since Elon [Musk] is doing [Twitter] polls, I thought I could do it too. Here’s my question: If you’re a registered Republican, do you support Ronna McDaniel for another term as RNC Chair, or do you favor Congressman Lee Zeldin?

With more than 74,000 votes in Bowyer’s unscientific poll, Zeldin had 97.7% support.

McDaniel released her own letter on Nov. 18, saying 101 RNC delegates were already supporting her reelection bid — despite losing the House of Representatives in 2018, losing former President Donald Trump and losing the Senate in the 2020 cycle and severely monitored Republican underperformance in 2022.

Zeldin said he wasn’t intimidated and told the Post a number of people who signed the letter called him afterwards and said they were under no obligation to McDaniel – and were even tricked into signing it.

“They are not committed to her,” Zeldin told the Post.

He also said some of the signers will be replaced as state GOP chairs and will not be able to vote for McDaniel.

“The letter had no deterrent effect on me,” Zeldin said.

The outgoing Long Island congressman said he would not make a decision on his nomination until Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff, which pits Republican Hershel Walker against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.

Meanwhile, Zeldin said some prominent GOP donors – including billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and chairman of giant financial investment firm The Blackstone Group, and metals mogul Andrew Sabin – have indicated they will make big contributions to the RNC when it moves to the is elected chairman, and be less inclined to do so if he was not.

The vote on the RNC chair is expected to take place at the committee’s winter meeting in January.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/01/lee-zeldin-for-rnc-chair-gains-steam-as-activists-donors-shirk-ronna-mcdaniel/ Lee Zeldin for RNC Chairman Gains Momentum as Activists, Donors Express themselves Ronna McDaniel

JACLYN DIAZ

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