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Schimpf: Re-Electing Ronna McDaniel Was A Mistake



By Paul Schimpf, Guest Contributor

On Friday, January 27th, the Republican National Committee (RNC) re-elected Ronna McDaniel as its leader for a record fourth term. The vote, 111-51-4, was not particularly close and I am told that all of the Illinois delegates on the RNC voted in favor of McDaniel.

The Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Don Tracy, provided the rationale for his vote in favor of McDaniel in an email on Saturday morning. I am grateful to Chairman Tracy for providing this explanation of his vote, as it is a welcome bit of transparency from our Chairman and he should be commended for providing it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he voted the wrong way.

In the explanation for his vote, Chairman Tracy spends most of his time talking about qualifications and accomplishments of Ms. McDaniel and that is precisely what is wrong with his argument—this decision shouldn’t have been about her.

The Republican Party she purports to serve and the United States of America that the Republican Party looks to improve are both bigger and more important than any one individual.

No one is irreplaceable.

Irrespective of her talent, Ronna McDaniel as the titular head of the Republican Party has now presided over three straight election defeats. She cannot unify our party and her re-election sends the message that the national Republican Party is not sufficiently committed to winning.

Frankly, she should have resigned her position immediately after the disappointing election results this past November.

The fact that Ms. McDaniel is keeping her job reflects the reality that while the 2022 election was a punch to the gut for Republican voters, it was a financial bonanza for Republican political operatives and consultants both nationally and in Illinois.

The RNC owns a portion of that failure.

Regardless of the “infrastructure” efforts cited by Chairman Tracy, the RNC failed to adequately prepare for the new vote by mail rules. More importantly, the RNC failed to put forth a vision or message of what it meant to be a Republican in 2022 or now.

Just as in war, where you cannot win every battle, we will not win every election. But long-term success requires that after a loss, we must be brutally honest about why we lost, hold ourselves accountable, and resolve not to repeat the same mistakes.

Republicans cannot win in Illinois or elsewhere unless they are unified. The re-election of Ronna McDaniel makes that unity all the more elusive.

The average American feels real consequences from the 2020 and 2022 losses. They should at least know that their Republican leaders recognize their pain and are not engaging in business as usual.

Regardless of how frustrated we are with the current state of the Republican Party, we can’t give up. Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld famously said, “you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army that you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

Our Republican Party, no matter how flawed or imperfect, is the only thing standing between progressives and their vision for an unrecognizable, socialist country. We must stay committed to a better Republican Party that can win elections by being united and standing for individual freedom.

That commitment starts with learning from defeat and holding accountable those who led us to it.

The RNC should have changed course.

Paul Schimpf is a former Marine Corps infantry officer and prosecutor. He was the Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General in 2014, a Republican State Senator from 2016-2020, and a Republican candidate for Illinois Governor in 2022.


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