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Donald Trump secures total control of the Republican Party

The resignation of the party’s chair will allow the former president to appoint someone he trusts to the position. Powerful donors have also decided to stop backing Haley, in another win for the real estate magnate

debate de los candidatos republicanos
The chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ronna McDaniel, during the third Republican primary debate last November.MIKE SEGAR (REUTERS)
Iker Seisdedos

After his victory in the South Carolina primaries, while he closes in on the Republican nomination for the White House, Donald Trump has ticked off a pending task from his to-do list: regain full control of the Republican Party. The chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ronna McDaniel, announced on Monday that she will step down next week, meaning Trump will be able to appoint a trusted ally to the position. This is happening in an election year, when Trump needs all levels of the party behind him, especially to raise money.

“I have decided to step aside at our spring training on March 8 in Houston to allow our nominee [all signs indicate that it will be Trump] to select a chair of their choosing,” McDaniel said in a statement. “The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee, and it has always been my intention to honor that tradition. I remain committed to winning back the White House and electing Republicans up and down the ballot in November.” She also thanked “President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead our party, as well as the RNC staff and donors who have supported me and our mission over the years.”

For weeks, it was rumored that McDaniel would step down after the South Carolina primary, where Trump defeated Nikki Haley, his only rival left standing of the 14 who entered the race. The former president won by 20 points, even though Haley was born in South Carolina, and governed the state between 2011 and 2017. McDaniel will step down three days after Super Tuesday, on March 5, when 15 states will decide 874 of 2,429 Republican delegates. To win the nomination, a candidate must have 1,215 delegates. Super Tuesday is a key date in the primary race, which ends in Milwaukee (Wisconsin) in mid-July. That’s when the Republican National Convention will decide who will be the party’s presidential candidate. If Trump, the front-runner in the polls, is chosen, the November election will be a repeat of the 2020 showdown between the real estate magnate and Joe Biden, who is running for reelection.

Koch loses faith in Haley

After the win in South Carolina, Trump was met with more good news on Sunday. Americans for Prosperity Action, an organization supported by billionaire Charles Koch, announced that it plans to stop supporting Haley after her loss (which polls predicted would be worse) in her home state. Koch is one of the most powerful Republicans in the United States and became known, along with his brother David, who died in 2019, for pulling the strings of American conservatism from the shadows. His decision to support Trump’s rival made headlines when it was revealed, and was seen as a sign of the rising Republican star’s strength. His decision to stop backing Haley, comes after other important donors, such as Reid Hoffman, also decided to pause funding.

Charles Koch, in 2015 in California.
Charles Koch, in 2015 in California.The Washington Post (Getty Images)

Despite the obstacles, Haley has not backed down from her commitment to stay in the race until Super Tuesday. Before that vote, she will face the Michigan primaries on Tuesday.

For the RNC seat, Trump already has someone in mind: Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and General Counsel of the Republican National Committee. The former president has also endorsed his daughter-in-law, Lara, who is married to Eric Trump, for co-chair.

It’s not that McDaniel, the first woman to head the RNC in more than 40 years, wasn’t loyal to the former president, but she had fallen out of his favor, which amounts to a political death sentence in the Republican Party of Trump. Before being appointed chair, she led the party in Michigan. She made the leap to the national sphere when she was appointed in 2017, shortly after the electoral victory that brought Trump to the White House.

For voices further to the right, McDaniel was not considered up to the task of one of the main tasks of the role: fundraising. She was attacked by both members of the Republican Party and media outlets aligned with the MAGA movement. They also held her responsible for the Republican Party’s poor results of the midterm elections in November 2022, when the party was expected to win overwhelmingly. Instead, the group had to settle for a defeat in the Senate and a meager victory in the House. That setback was largely due to the overly extreme candidates backed by Trump. He also pressured McDaniel to cancel the traditional primary debates. The RNC organized four, which began last August, but Trump did not take part in a single one.

In favor of her seven years in office, neither McDaniel nor any of the members or workers of the committee have become embroiled in the legal troubles of Trump, who faces 91 charges in four separate cases. Dozens of other Trump collaborators from his years in the White House have been cited in these investigations.

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