Lee Zeldin Takes Aim at the RNC

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Though Rep. Lee Zeldin failed to win the gubernatorial race in New York last Tuesday, he put in a hell of an impressive showing considering the political make-up of the state. He’s also being credited with helping Republicans retake control of the House after four of them flipped Democrat-held seats in the Empire State, including DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney’s.


In the aftermath of the election, rumors started to fly that Zeldin was considering making a bid for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, a position currently held by Ronna McDaniel who has already publicly declared her intentions to run again.

Over the last week-plus, Zeldin further fueled speculation that he was interested, with a number of tweets posted where he’s spelled out the direction he believes Republicans need to take. And on Thursday he confirmed with the RNC via email that he was “very seriously considering” running:

The email, first obtained by POLITICO, said that he is “very seriously considering” running for leadership of the party.

“It is time for our party to retool, transform, win back the Presidency in 2024, expand our number of Republican held seats in Congress, and elect the maximum number of down ballot races across the country,” Zeldin said in the message. “The Republican Party needs to be all in to do everything in its power to save America.”


In his email to RNC members, Zeldin wrote, “Not only should the Republican Party compete in all 50 states, and ensure we are driving up turnout within our base, but we also need to go to all communities no matter how blue they are, show up often, build relationships, and advance our proposals on education, upward economic mobility, housing, mental health, public safety, and more. This means making sure people know what we stand for, and not just what we are against.”


Though McDaniel loyalists will no doubt stand by her, some members of the RNC are already publicly pledging their support for a Zeldin candidacy, including Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi:

I’m inclined to agree that new leadership is needed at the RNC considering the anticipated red wave turned out to be little more than a red trickle despite the political climate being ripe for a red tsunami. And though House Republicans put in a strong showing in 2020, they fell short of winning the House.

As to why Zeldin would be a good choice? He knows how to get loud, he gets that you should never back down, he seems to have his finger on the pulse of what voters are concerned about the most (in New York, it was crime, the justice system, and economic matters), and he’s shown a willingness to try and connect with voters in areas where other Republicans fear to tread.

Though Republicans in the House and Senate have made clear they’ll stick with current leadership, let’s hope at the RNC’s winter meeting in January that the consensus is that change is needed and now – and that it needs to start at the top.


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