Former President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind Michael Whatley for the position of Republican National Committee (RNC) chair, along with endorsing his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, for co-chair. Additionally, one of his senior advisers, Chris LaCivita, received Trump’s endorsement for chief operating officer.
The announcement of these endorsements came via a statement released by Trump on Monday night. Trump cited Whatley’s dedication to “election integrity,” a sentiment that aligns with Whatley’s staunch support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
“This group of three is highly talented, battle-tested, and smart. They have my complete and total endorsement to lead the Republican National Committee,” Trump stated, emphasizing his confidence in their capabilities.
These endorsements signal a potential shake-up in the leadership of the RNC. Ronna McDaniel, the current chair of the RNC, has reportedly discussed the possibility of resigning with Trump, as indicated by sources familiar with their conversations.
However, the RNC swiftly responded to Trump’s endorsements, asserting that McDaniel would not be stepping down from her position or making any announcements about future plans until after the South Carolina GOP primary on February 24.
“Chairwoman McDaniel has been on the road helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot, and she will continue working hard to beat Biden this fall. Nothing has changed, and there will be no decision or announcement about future plans until after South Carolina,” stated an RNC spokesperson.
Trump’s endorsements come at a critical time for the RNC, which has faced challenges in fundraising ahead of the 2024 election cycle. As of January 2024, the RNC reported having only $8 million in the bank, significantly less than its Democratic counterparts, who boasted $21 million in funds.
One factor contributing to the fundraising gap is the joint fundraising capability of the Democratic National Committee with the reelection campaign of President Joe Biden. During the 2020 election cycle, the RNC and the Trump campaign operated a joint fundraising operation, raising over $1.6 billion over two years. However, following the election, the RNC and Trump have been raising funds separately.
Trump’s endorsement of his allies for leadership positions within the RNC suggests a potential move towards integrating campaign efforts with the party apparatus. Such integration could facilitate joint fundraising efforts, allowing the RNC and Trump to raise funds collectively.
Moreover, joint fundraising arrangements could entail the RNC covering Trump’s legal expenses, a practice that was common during his presidency and afterward until he declared his candidacy for the 2024 race.
In his endorsement statement, Trump hinted at the possibility of a joint fundraising operation, assuring that “every penny will be used properly. New Day.”
Overall, Trump’s endorsements signal a strategic shift within the RNC leadership, potentially paving the way for closer collaboration between the party and the former president’s political machinery as they gear up for the upcoming election cycle.