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'It’s Time For Fresh Blood': Zeldin Not Running For RNC Chair, Calls For McDaniel's Ouster

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel and Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel and Rep. Lee Zeldin. Photo Credit: US House/Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore

New York Congressman and former candidate for governor Lee Zeldin will not run for chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), but says it’s clear the party needs new leadership.

In a statement Wednesday, Dec. 7, Zeldin said “I won’t be running for RNC chair at this time with (current Chair Ronna) McDaniel’s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again.”

Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District covering eastern Long Island, said he is grateful for all the messages he’s received encouraging him to run for the position.

He went on to lay blame for Republicans’ disappointing results in the midterm elections, including the Georgia senate race, on McDaniel.

“The grassroots is frustrated, deflated, and defeated,” Zeldin said.

“They are tired of coming up short like what happened again just yesterday. 

"It is time for our party to retool, transform, and win back the presidency in 2024, expand our numbers of Republican held seats in Congress, and win the maximum number of down ballot races across the country.”

Zeldin said he would like to see the party improve its fundraising efforts and get “more efficient” with spending, as well as focus more on “election integrity efforts.”

He also called on Republicans to improve their messaging strategy, increase their presence in Democrat strongholds, and focus more on grassroots campaigning.

“The Republican party must more heavily lean into candidate recruitment, campaign management, volunteer engagement, and voter registration,” Zeldin said.

He went on to say that Republican voters already believe that Washington, DC is “an irredeemable swamp,” and that the party, by design, has “massive barriers to avoid a change in leadership.”

“They will be proven right, yet again, if Chairwoman McDaniel moves forward with running for a fourth term, despite her prior pledge not to do so,” Zeldin said.

“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.”

McDaniel was elected as RNC chair in January 2017, having been chosen by then President-elect Donald Trump as his recommendation the previous month. She is the second woman in RNC history to hold the position. 

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