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Politics & Policy

SF Republican Harmeet Dhillon loses bid to lead GOP

Harmeet Dhillon, a candidate for the Republican Party chair, speaks to the media after GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel was reelected chair of the Republican National Park on Jan. 27, 2023. | Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

At a conference held in Dana Point, Republican reelected Ronna McDaniel to an unprecedented fourth term as the chair of the national party, defeating San Francisco attorney and former state party official Harmeet Dhillon.

Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and barnstorming defender of the false theory that President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, also ran.

Dhillon, a frequent guest on Fox News, had previously served as the vice president of the California Republican Party. Like Lindell, she has been a staunch Trump supporter, and the two had been running on a quasi-unity ticket to oust McDaniel, who many elected officials and rank-and-file party members blame for the GOP’s middling performance in November’s midterms. 

However, McDaniel never lacked for party support, with approximately four times as many endorsements as her challengers. On Friday, she triumphed by 111 votes to 51, with four going to Lindell and one to another candidate, according to The New York Times. Some McDaniel supporters believed she was well-positioned to keep supporters of debunked conspiracy theories away from the levers of power, while Dhillon’s backers believed there had been a whispering campaign regarding their candidate's Sikh faith.

McDaniel, a niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, is also a member of a religious minority, the Church of Latter-Day Saints. 

As Trump personally selected McDaniel to lead the party in 2017, her reelection suggests his influence in the Republican Party has not waned. On Thursday, Florida Governor and likely 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis entered the fray, calling for fresh blood and furthering his rivalry with Trump.

The race for RNC was characterized by email blitzes on all sides, with accusations that McDaniel misspent donors’ money on luxuries and pricey consultants. While contentious, the battle for party chair was less prominent than Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s struggle to become Speaker of the House this month. That effort required 15 votes before McCarthy earned the gavel.

In her San Francisco law practice, Dhillon fought to remove a safe-sleeping site at a former McDonald’s in the Haight and supported a neurodivergent Google employee who claimed he was wrongfully terminated for being a politically conservative white male.

Astrid Kane can be reached at