IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Harmeet Dhillon and Ronna McDaniel.
Harmeet Dhillon and Ronna McDaniel.Getty Images

What to know about this week's race to lead the RNC

The Republican National Committee will vote on its chair during the party's winter meeting in California on Friday.


On Friday, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee will choose who they want to serve as their party's chair — incumbent Ronna McDaniel or a new face for the party.

McDaniel, who has helmed the RNC since 2017, is the clear favorite going into the contest and still touts an impressive amount of support from members and top lawmakers. But her top opponent, California Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon, has argued the party needs to change after a string of disappointing election results and has some vocal proponents (and critics of McDaniel) in her corner.

Here's what you need to know about this week's vote:

It's a secret ballot where a majority wins

The RNC's membership is made up of 168 members from 56 states and territories (one chair, one national committeeman and one national committeewoman). The members will vote on a secret ballot Friday, with the winner needing a majority of those present for the vote.

RNC chair votes have gone to multiple ballots before — most recently in 2013 when it took Reince Priebus seven ballots to topple incumbent chair Michael Steele.

McDaniel leads significantly in pledged supporters

McDaniel is touting the support of more than 100 members of the committee, significantly more than the 85 she'll need to vote for her to secure her re-election. The lion's share of those members backed McDaniel in a letter early on the process.

Based on Dhillon's campaign website and an NBC News Political Unit analysis of the public statements of RNC members, at least 32 say they are publicly backing her.

One member has publicly touted support for MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, who is also running.

Members need the support from three states to make the ballot

According to the RNC rules, a candidate's name can only be placed into nomination if they're nominated by a majority of members from three states.

That should be no problem for McDaniel and Dhillon, but could pose a problem for Lindell given his lack of public support.

Even so, Lindell told Vice News he had enough support to qualify, and told CNN that he asked those supportive members to be "discreet" in order to avoid criticism.

CORRECTION (Jan. 30, 2023, 11:45 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the composition of the RNC membership. RNC members come from 56 states and territories, not 56 states.