Zeldin Says He’s not Running for RNC Chair

By Matis Glenn

Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin addresses supporters at his election night party, just after midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Lee Zeldin announced Wednesday that he will not run for Chair of the Republican National Committee, alleging that the results of a potential election were “pre baked” to keep current Chairwoman Ronna McDaniels in power.

Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island who ran for governor this year, was widely seen as a strong candidate for the position, having lost to Gov. Kathy Hochul by a slim margin of six points – the closest election in the state since 2002. Zeldin campaigned on a platform that focused on crime; an issue that was at the top of New York voters’ minds in a Quinnipiac poll taken in late October.

“I am grateful for all the messages I have received from across the country the past few weeks encouraging me to run for Chair of the Republican National Committee,” Zeldin said in a statement. “Change is desperately needed…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.”

Regarded as a deep-blue state – President Biden handily carried New York by 23 points in 2020 – along with Zeldin’s candidacy, Republicans managed to flip four House seats in November, as well as several state legislature seats. In a race closely followed nationwide, Mike Lawler, a young state assemblyman, scored an upset victory against Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who had served as representative for five terms previously.

Zeldin says that the GOP needs to “retool” and “transform” to succeed in the 2024 election, but “by design, there are massive barriers to avoid a change in leadership.”


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