Many Conservatives Don’t Want McDaniel for RNC Chair, But Opponent Dhillon Has Puzzling Past on Abortion, Gay Marriage

Michael W. Chapman | December 13, 2022 | 5:33pm EST
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California Republican Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon, left, and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.  (Screenshots)
California Republican Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon, left, and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. (Screenshots)

(CNS – Although 107 Republican National Committee members have signed a letter in support of Ronna McDaniel to be reelected to a fourth term as RNC chairwoman, many conservatives in D.C. and across the country want California Republican Harmeet Dhillon to take the position.

Some conservatives say McDaniel has a long losing streak and needs to go. However, critics have noted that Dhillon has a controversial past on issues such as abortion, transgenderism, and gay marriage, which may make her less than ideal. 

In addition to the 107 RNC members (out of 168) who back McDaniel – more than enough votes to win the election in January – SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser praised her and endorsed her for reelection.

“Ronna McDaniel is the ‘gold standard’ for what it means to be a pro-life RNC chair,” said Dannenfelser. “She knows in order to win the debate we must define what the GOP stands for and contrast it with the extremist view of the Democrats: abortion on demand, up until birth, paid for by the taxpayers. Ronna is exactly the kind of leader we need at the helm of the RNC for the 2024 cycle as we work to win back the White House, win full control of Congress, and build on our dominance at the state level.”


In their endorsement letter on McDaniel, the 107 RNC members said, "Our cause at the RNC, and our singular goal should be, to achieve victory in 2024 with great Republican candidates up and down the ticket in every state and territory. Under your leadership, the Republican National Committee has become a stronger and more effective force for our cause.”

However, long-time conservative leader Morton Blackwell tweeted on Dec. 10, “As Republican National Committeeman for Virginia, I support Harmeet Dhillon for Chair of the Republican National Committee. She has a long and successful record as a leader for conservative principles at the state and national levels.”

Attorney and Republican activist Victoria Toensing told CNS News that many people she has spoken with "are very upset with" McDaniel, and some say "she's a loser."

"I want to express my support for Harmeet," said Toensing. 

Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney, leads the California Republican National Committee, founded the Center for American Liberty, and frequently appears as a commentator on Fox News.

“I strongly support Harmeet Dhillon,” said conservative Kurt Schlichter, a successful trial lawyer, Iraq war veteran, columnist, and frequent commentator on Fox News. “I know Harmeet and she is a skilled attorney as well as an able administrator. She has the right qualifications and vision for the RNC chair that we need today. This is nothing personal against Ronna McDaniel. She is just 0-5 in elections under her watch and that is unacceptable. If she was a coach, she would have moved on.”


Syndicated conservative talk-radio host Erick Erickson told CNS News, “I think any alternative to Ronna McDaniel is preferable because McDaniel has the worst record of under-performance of RNC chairs in history going back to the founding in 1856. I hope more people step forward to challenge her. However, under her tenure, the RNC matters far less than it ever has before so I understand people unwilling to expend much energy to advocate for change in an organization now no more powerful than a faculty academic senate.”

Gavin Wax, president of the New York Young Republican Committee, said, “Dhillon's record makes her uniquely qualified for the position. She is intimately aware of the issues that are crucial with the America First base and has her finger on the pulse of these issues.”

Wax further said, “[Ronna] McDaniel is the ultimate political chameleon, using Romney's bona fides to get an unearned position of authority but reinventing herself as a Trump Republican when that benefited her ambitions. Although she masquerades as a Trump ally now, she has clearly brought the baggage of the establishment with her. The RNC under her control has failed time and again.”


Concerning some of Dhillon’s controversial background, Suzanne Bowdey wrote in The Washington Stand, the Family Research Council’s news and commentary outlet, that the lawyer has defended Christian students, pro-life journalists, and gender-transition victims over the years. However, Dhillon has also “aligned herself with Republicans who identify as transgender, voiced evolving views on abortion, and said the government should have no role in sanctioning marriages.”


Dhillon is a former board member of the ACLU, former donor to Kamala Harris’ district attorney race in San Francisco, and former general counsel to Caitlyn Jenner’s (Bruce Jenner) gubernatorial run in 2021. In addition, Dhillon worked for Richard Grenell, a gay-partnered man who served as Director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration.

The Washington Stand further reported that Dhillon’s positions on abortion and gay marriage “seem to have ‘evolved’ over the years.”


For instance, in 2012, Dhillon told VOA News, “I would never have an abortion and my religion does not recognize gay marriage. What I believe though is that the government should not interfere in most private choices by individuals.”

“I also don’t think the government should be taking a position on promoting particular religious values,” she added. “I think that the idea that a social contract between a pair of consenting adults should be governed by religious themes and religious concerns, I think that’s anathema to a secular society such as we have.”

Republican Lee Zeldin, center.  (Getty Images)
Republican Lee Zeldin, center. (Getty Images)

In 2018, Dhillon apparently had evolved, telling, “Life begins at conception. Abortion should only be allowed in limited circumstances — life of the mother and rape.” Dhillon also told Inc. magazine to correct her position of allegedly opposing gay marriage and efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade

However, as Inc. noted, “She declined to clarify what her views on abortion and same-sex marriage are.”

Despite these controversies, there is no doubt that Dhillon has done yeoman’s work over the years fighting for pro-life clients and other conservative causes, as The Washington Stand details. And when compared it comes to the RNC race, many conservatives prefer Dhillon.

As Catholic League President Bill Donohue told CNS News, “In professional sports, losing coaches are often fired at the end of the season, if not before then. … Ronna McDaniel presided over a losing midterm election. She has to go. Given the monumental failure of the first two years of the Biden administration, expectations were running high that Republicans would post record gains. They did not. One reason they didn’t is because of McDaniel’s leadership."

Catholic League President Bill Donohue.  (Screenshot)
Catholic League President Bill Donohue. (Screenshot)

“Fortunately, Harmeet Dhillon is waiting in the wings,” said Donohue.  “Smart and courageous, she would give the GOP a real shot in the arm. It’s not a close call.”

ForAmerica President David Bozell said, “There is no disputing that the Party has struggled to compete statewide, cycle after cycle, in the same critical states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada are top of mind. Romney-McDaniel has had multiple election cycles to solve this problem and yet, the Party remains stuck in neutral. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ It’s time for new thinking at the top of the GOP.”


On Dec. 12, the Republican Executive Committee of Texas voted (62-0) on a resolution stating that McDaniel “must be replaced.”

Republican Lee Zeldin, who decided not to run for RNC chairman, said in a statement, “The better path forward would be for Chairwoman McDaniel to listen to and respect the wishes of the actual grassroots voters of our party, and allow the RNC to forge ahead with new leadership. Her greatest service to the Republican Party at this time would be to make room for a new chair."

Zeldin added, however, that McDaniel’s reelection seemed “pre-baked by design,” implying it would be tough to unseat an incumbent from the RNC chair.

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