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Zeldin says he will not challenge McDaniel for RNC chair

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) prepares to participate in a Republican gubernatorial debate in June.
Bebeto Matthews/The Associated Press
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) prepares to participate in a Republican gubernatorial debate in June.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) announced on Wednesday that he will not challenge Ronna McDaniel for the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) top spot but urged the three-time chairwoman to step aside.

“Change is desperately needed, and there are many leaders, myself included, ready and willing to step up to ensure our party retools and transforms as critical elections fast approach,” Zeldin said in a statement.

“However, the issue is Chairwoman McDaniel’s re-election appears to already be pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter,” he added.

His statement came after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) secured a full six-year term in the Senate after defeating his Trump-backed Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, in a runoff election on Tuesday. Walker’s defeat rounded out particularly lackluster midterm elections for the GOP, as the anticipated “red wave” failed to materialize.

Zeldin said last month that he was “very seriously considering” requests to challenge McDaniel. However, a majority of the RNC’s voting members signed on to a letter soon after endorsing McDaniel for a fourth term.

The members applauded McDaniel in the letter for making the RNC “a stronger and more effective force for our cause.”

Zeldin on Wednesday, however, called for the current chairwoman to step aside, pointing to Republicans’ recent election disappointments.

“I won’t be running for RNC Chair at this time with McDaniel’s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again,” Zeldin, who unsuccessfully ran for New York governor this year, said in a tweet. “It’s time the GOP elects new leadership! It’s time for fresh blood!”

Tags 2022 midterm elections Georgia runoff Georgia Senate race Herschel Walker Hershel Walker Lee Zeldin Lee Zeldin Raphael Warnock Raphael Warnock RNC RNC chair Ronna McDaniel Ronna McDaniel
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