Fire Ronna McDaniel: The case for Lee Zeldin as RNC chairman

Lee Zeldin
Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin greets supporters at the end of a campaign rally on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Westchester, New York. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP

Fire Ronna McDaniel: The case for Lee Zeldin as RNC chairman

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If the manager of your local 7-Eleven performed as poorly as Ronna McDaniel has as the Republican National Committee’s chairwoman, he would’ve been in the unemployment line already.

Prior to taking the helm of the national GOP, McDaniel’s political credentials included campaigning for uncle Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign and riding his coattails to represent Michigan in the RNC before running the Michigan state GOP.

In 2017, Donald Trump selected her to run the RNC. In exchange, McDaniel reportedly agreed to dump the surname of the first man who made her famous, “Romney.”

During her tenure, the Republican Party lost control of the House in 2018, the Electoral College in 2020, and the Senate in 2021. It is now slated to lose one net Senate seat in an election year that should have gone the party’s way, ensuring two more years of President Joe Biden’s Senate nominees cruising to confirmation.

The party’s record over the last half-decade would be as historically anomalous as it would be humiliating, if not for the man who threw himself on the grenade to salvage the GOP’s hopes of reclaiming the House: Lee Zeldin.

In a political climate that thrives on bombast, Zeldin is the counterexample. He is not a spotlight-seeking megalomaniac — just an ordinary, hard-working lawmaker. At a time when even the GOP has embraced the tackiest form of tokenism and identity politics, Zeldin is a straight, white male.

Zeldin made a choice all too rare in the Beltway: putting party over personal prospects. Zeldin traded the job security of representing eastern Long Island in the House to run against incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul. Nobody but Andrew Cuomo himself thought that any Republican had a shot of coming close to winning the D+10 state. In 2018, GOP nominee Marc Molinaro had lost by more than 20 percentage points.

(By the way, if you want an easy promotion in the Republican Party nowadays, you don’t actually try to flip seats. Instead, you go on Newsmax and “say nice things” about Trump and pray for a Cabinet nomination in 2025.)

Yet Zeldin came in fewer than 5 points behind Hochul, providing Republican candidates across the state with the coattails to flip a whopping four congressional seats.

Florida helped the Republicans flip an additional three House seats. Those two states, one a historical swing state and another an indigo stronghold of the Democratic Party, provided Republicans with their entire seven-seat lead in the House, with GOP hopes fizzling out all over the heartland.

This happened even though Biden was presiding over the worst inflation in four decades and an urban homicide crisis. How did it happen? One major reason was that Republican voters nominated a cabal of clowns obsessed with servicing Trump’s ego with election denialism.

The Florida and New York tickets, headed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Zeldin, respectively, proved exactly how to win — not by running away from the so-called culture war, but by turning it into a winning collection of policy priorities. I’d say send a Floridian to run the Republican Party, but they are all employed already, and soon enough, their boss will be running for president.

There’s one unemployed Republican politico who achieved greatness for the party at the cost of his own career, and that’s Zeldin. With McDaniel a proven failure (walking evidence that tokenism and Trump fealty are abysmal qualifications for a litmus test of leadership), it’s time to let Zeldin do for the national Republican Party what he did for New York: Help them win for once.

Zeldin isn’t perfect, but he is proven. That’s a good deal better for a party that boasts a half-decade losing streak.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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