Harmeet Dhillon, who serves as the Republican National Committee chairwoman from California, declared her candidature against incumbent Ronna McDaniel for the national level post on Monday, saying she is tired of the Republican Party losing successive elections and wants to “modernize” the Grand Old Party to compete with Democrats.
“Grassroots Republicans, donors and fellow RNC members alike have been reaching out to me since the midterm elections seeking changes in Republican leadership,” Dhillon told Fox News, adding, “After successive disappointing election cycles, I believe we owe it to our voters to have an honest dialogue about the direction of our party and what needs to change for us to win in 2024.”
McDaniel had earlier announced her intention to seek a third term for the RNC chair post that is decided by a majority vote of the committee’s 168 members, including state GOP chairs and national committee members. Also in the race is Mike Lindell, the CEO of a pillow company who like Dhillon is a staunch pro-Trumper and has Trump‘s endorsement. A vote is expected to take place in January when the RNC holds its winter meeting.
The RNC chair typically supervises grassroots activity, the logistics and mechanics of hosting the party convention and nominating the presidential candidate, although she or he lacks the clout and profile of the prospective or nominated Presidential candidate. Only George H.W Bush in modern US political history transitioned from RNC chair (1973-74) to the White House (1988-1992).
Dhillon, who tweets with the handle @pnjaban, came to the US as a child when her father, an orthopedic surgeon, emigrated in the 1970s. After attending school in North Carolina, she went to Dartmouth College and later graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law.
She began her public life in the liberal spectrum of California politics, becoming a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the 9/11 attacks, and working on discrimination against Sikhs and other South Asians. At one point she was a supporter of Kamala Harris when the latter was running for District Attorney of San Francisco, before she gradually veered right.
Even in the Republican Party, Dhillon, 54, was an anti-Trumper before she did an about turn and become an ardent pro-Trumper after he won the 2016 presidential nomination. She went on to become a MAGA cheerleader in a state that is a Democratic stronghold, and her law firm Dhillon Law represented Trump before the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. She is now a leading voice in the former President’s “election was stolen” constituency even though the claim has been debunked.