USA: Republicans spread their divisions to reappoint the leader of their party
The Republican Party reappointed Chair Ronna McDaniel to California on Friday in a meeting that once again underscored the deep divisions within the conservative camp ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
In charge since 2016, this close friend of Donald Trump was re-elected for a fourth term with 111 out of 167 votes cast at the party’s national committee in Dana Point, California.
With a victory in the first round, she spared herself the humiliation experienced by Kevin McCarthy at the beginning of January, forced to grant important concessions to the hardest fringe of the party to reach the post of “speaker” in Congress, after 14 successive votes.
But this election has nonetheless revealed the fractures of the “Grand Old Party” (GOP), scalded by its poor performance in the mid-term elections in November, where it won only a fragile majority in the House of Representatives and failed to win back the Senate.
Weighted down by legal troubles, Donald Trump has already declared his candidacy to regain the White House in 2024, but his stranglehold on the party is increasingly contested. The candidates he supported in November mostly failed to get elected, transforming the ex-president and his immoderate taste for provocation into a “losing machine” in the eyes of many.
His protege Ronna McDaniel had so far always been re-elected unopposed. But this time, she had to get rid of Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer who won 51 votes by capitalizing on the bitterness of many Republicans in order to forge an unexpected alliance.
His calls for change have appealed to both the most extreme Trumpists and those seeking an alternative to Mr. Trump. On the eve of the vote by secret ballot, the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, whose presidential ambitions are hardly in doubt, thus came out in his favour.
“I think we need a change. I think we need new blood on the Republican National Committee,” the pure-blood conservative, triumphantly re-elected in November, told Florida’s Voice.
– Facade union –
Far from the mess displayed for all to see in Congress in early January, Ronna McDaniel tried to reunite her party after her victory. She brought on stage Ms. Dhillon and her other rival, conspiratorial entrepreneur Mike Lindell, who won 4 votes.
“With all of us united, the Democrats will hear us in 2024,” she rejoiced, immediately congratulated by Donald Trump on social networks.
Before the vote, she had warned against the divisions of her camp. “Nothing we do is more important than making sure Joe Biden has only one term as president,” she insisted. “But for that, we need to be united.”
A wish that is likely to turn out to be pious. In the corridors of the luxurious hotel where the committee was taking place, Ms Dhillon insisted on the popular support she enjoyed and accused the body of blindness.
“No one is going to unite behind a party that ignores its base,” she lambasted to the press, accusing the GOP establishment and Mr. Trump’s advisers of rigging the election by putting all party resources in the service of Ms. McDaniel. “I think the party is going to have to deal with the fallout from this disconnect with the grassroots.”
The members of the committee “did not listen to what the people wanted”, abounded Mr. Lindell, the other loser, with AFP.
More than support for Mr. Trump, the re-election of Ms. McDaniel sounds like a way to “block the most extreme fringe of the party from taking control” of the GOP which supported Ms. Dhillon, analyzes for AFP political scientist Wendy Schiller .
According to her, this usually unexciting election has turned into a “proxy battle” between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. What underline the persistent malaise among curators in full doubt.
“At the national level, to win the elections this party is really fragmenting and falling apart.”