Mulling RNC chair, Noem says GOP needs to ‘see what we can do better’ in wake of disappointing election

ORLANDO, Fla. – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she’s receiving encouragement to consider challenging Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel when the national party committee in January selects its chair for the next two years.

Noem, asked during an interview with Fox News if she’s considering a bid for RNC chair, said, “We as Republicans need to really evaluate what we’re doing.” The governor then pointed to 2020 and 2022 election setbacks by the GOP and emphasized, “We have to evaluate that and see what we can do better.”

The governor, who last week easily won re-election for a second four-year term steering the red state of South Dakota, pointed to McDaniel in a separate interview on Tuesday with the Wall Street Journal and asked, “Who loses this much and gets to keep their job?”

Asked by Fox News if she could serve as both RNC chair and South Dakota governor, Noem answered, “Oh gosh, I haven’t even looked at it.”

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Taking part in a panel at the Republican Governors Association’s annual winter meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 15, 2022, are, from left, Republican Govs. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Bill Lee of Tennessee.
(Fox News )

McDaniel announced her candidacy on Monday during a call with RNC committee members, multiple sources on that call told Fox News. Her decision to run for RNC chair comes as Republicans point fingers following disappointing losses in last week’s midterm elections, having failed to win a Senate majority, losing key governors races and facing the prospect of a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives in what was supposed to be a “red wave” election.

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Following the 2016 election, former President Trump chose McDaniel – who at the time was the chair of the Michigan GOP – to steer the national party committee. She was re-elected to two-year terms in 2019 and 2021.

Besides Noem, McDaniel could also potentially face competition from Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who last week came close to defeating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in the deep blue state. Fox News reported on Monday that Zeldin is seriously mulling a bid for RNC chair.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin addresses supporters at his election night party on Nov. 9, 2022, in New York City.
(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Also considering the position is Mercedes Schlapp, a former top Trump White House official who is the wife of American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp. The ACU’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) confabs in Orlando and Dallas are must-stops for the far right and MAGA wings of the Republican Party.

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All 168 RNC committee members will vote on the next chair when they gather in early January in southern California for their annual winter meeting.

McDaniel’s team advertises that they have the support of nearly 100 committee members.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel headlines a GOP unity breakfast on Sept. 15, 2022, in Concord, New Hampshire.
(Fox News)

“I fully expect her to win,” a committee member who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely told Fox News. “But I hope it’s contested and not a coronation. Competition is good.”

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McDaniel spokesperson Emma Vaughn said, “Chairwoman McDaniel expanded the map by investing more in state parties than ever before, transferred tens of millions of dollars to our sister committees, built 38 brick-and-mortar minority community centers, employed over 1,000 staff in every Senate battleground state and in 70 House battleground districts who recruited over 1 million volunteers who made over 100 million voter contacts.”

Former RNC finance chairman Todd Rickets emphasized, “Nobody is better to lead the Republican Party to victory in the next two years than Ronna McDaniel. Throughout our time together when I was at the RNC, we raised more money for Republicans than ever before. She has my full support to run again and lead the GOP in electing the next president of the United States and taking back the Senate.”