RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel's Next Political Move Could Involve the Michigan Statehouse

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel (choose one) 1) has considered 2) is considering 3) would consider challenging incumbent Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer in next year’s election cycle.

The 48-year-old McDaniel took over that sometimes crucial party office the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Her next possible political move, first reported by Politico Thursday afternoon, would create a serious challenge for the embattled Michigan Democrat, who did not make the cut for Joe Biden’s Cabinet, despite being co-chair of Biden’s national campaign.

Another Republican, John James, could create a lively primary race in the normally Democrat state. He’s an Iraq war veteran, but he’s lost two consecutive Senate challenges there, despite Trump endorsements.

Under Trump’s presidency, McDaniel proved to be a prolific fundraiser both for the committee and the president, donor contacts that would serve her well in such an expensive campaign.

A lifelong Michigan resident and staunch Trump supporter, McDaniel previously served as the state’s effective GOP party chair. She replaced Reince Priebus as RNC chair when Trump chose him for a short-lived term as his chief of staff.

She’s the granddaughter of George Romney, a three-term Michigan governor who unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination. She’s the niece of current Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and daughter and granddaughter of past statewide candidates there.

RNC chair is an important position if the president is Republican. But when Democrats control the White House and, these days, both the Senate and House, it’s an in-the-trenches grinding job. That involves keeping and recruiting big-ticket donors, scouting effective future candidates, and making on-camera appearances with hostile media on cable channels.

The chair often changes when the president does. But despite his November loss, Trump endorsed McDaniel for a third two-year term chair and the committee approved.

McDaniel’s actual intentions are unclear, which may be an accurate reflection of her own feelings 19 months out. Money aside, there’s no real rush to decide; she has three days short of a year to file nominating petitions. The GOP state primary is not until late August next year. And, the Politico report could always be a trial balloon to test support in Michigan and Mar-a-Lago.

McDaniel revealed her considerations Wednesday in a closed meeting in Dallas with more than 100 RNC members. She was giving a post-election report. But reportedly grew emotional when describing the controversial and botched pandemic response of the first-term Whitmer. McDaniel’s two children are public school students in Michigan but were denied in-person learning all year by Whitmer’s pandemic lockdown dictates.

The Democrat appears vulnerable in next year’s midterm elections, which usually prove difficult for a president’s party in Washington and beyond. Whitmer has displayed a familiar political hypocrisy. She recently went to Florida against her own public travel suggestions and her draconian lockdown and mask procedures drew capital protests. The controversial measures have also proven ineffective, as states with looser guidelines recover and Michigan’s caseload surges.