Who will be GOP’s national leader?

California attorney Harmeet Dhillon is in the running for the post of RNC chair.

Mounting frustration over GOP electoral losses has incited a contentious leadership battle that pits a prominent California Republican against the party’s national leader.

The effort by San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon, whose clients include former President Trump, to oust Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel will be decided at a party meeting in Dana Point that begins Wednesday.

Both women are ardent, vocal Trump supporters — a reflection of the grip the former president still has on the party more than two years after losing the White House. Both have pledged to remain neutral in the 2024 GOP presidential primary if elected as chair.

McDaniel, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), is widely viewed as having the edge in the race. But Dhillon, a longtime state party leader, has received the support of prominent conservatives, including Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, in a contest that has been laced with what appeared to be calculated attacks about Dhillon’s Sikh faith and McDaniel’s role in the party’s subpar performance in recent elections.

Some committee members are concerned that the increasingly ugly infighting could affect the party’s prospects and hope McDaniel and Dhillon can make peace, regardless of the outcome.

“They’ve both got to talk and agree that whoever wins, the other one’s going to say the right things and do the right things,” said Mississippi committee member Henry Barbour. The nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined to say whom he will vote for. “If we at the RNC can’t come together, how can we expect voters to come together?” he asked.

A surprise victory by Dhillon would breathe life into a moribund California Republican Party that in recent decades has dwindled into political irrelevance and would follow closely behind Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy’s narrow victory to become speaker of the House. The ascension of California Republicans to the pinnacle of the national political universe would go a long way toward salving the sting of the party’s failure to win any statewide election since 2006.

“Harmeet has more of a shot than what the public expectations are,” said Tim Miller, a former advisor to GOP presidential candidates who worked at the RNC but left the party in 2020. “The smart money is on Ronna. … Ronna knows all these people, she’s been working the inside game for years, which is a huge advantage. But Harmeet has tapped into legitimate frustration with the RNC.”

The task ahead for the next RNC chair, who will lead the party during the 2024 presidential election, will not be easy. Republican activists and donors are exasperated by Democrats’ success in the 2018 midterm election, the loss of the White House in 2020 and their inability to take control of the Senate and narrow win in the House of Representatives last year, when most analysts predicted a red wave.

Dhillon said these upsets, as well as McDaniel’s decision to seek an unprecedented fourth term, prompted her bid to lead the party. To rebound, she said, the party must promote the use of mail ballots, counter Democratic efforts to boost weak candidates in GOP primaries and provide smarter messaging to young and minority voters.

“There are a lot of changes that need to be made for us to be in fighting shape to win in ’24,” Dhillon said. “I’m tired of Republicans losing elections.”

Born in India, Dhillon, 54, and her family immigrated to Britain, then to New York City, before settling in rural North Carolina. Her parents registered as Republicans after they became naturalized citizens, in part because of the disdain her father, an orthopedic surgeon, had for trial lawyers because of medical malpractice lawsuits. They were also driven by the persecution of Sikhs in India, which was decried by Republican Jesse Helms, at the time a senator from North Carolina. Dhillon’s parents hosted fundraisers for Helms.

After law school, Dhillon settled in San Francisco. She became active in Bay Area politics after hosting debate watch parties during President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 and was elected vice chair of the state GOP in 2013. Three years later, she was elected as one of California’s three representatives on the Republican National Committee, on which she has served ever since.

Dhillon and her law firm’s prominence grew exponentially during the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic. She frequently appears on conservative media, and her firm has filed lawsuits over conservative rights on college campuses, pandemic restrictions and other causes dear to Republican voters. This month, a nonprofit she founded sued a California school district for allegedly helping transition an elementary school student to another gender without informing her parents.

“Harmeet’s tough; she has not been afraid of challenging incumbents,” said Ron Nehring, a former state party chair. “She’s very action-oriented, and it has worked to her benefit.”

Dhillon was a delegate for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the 2016 presidential election until he dropped out, at which point she joined her husband, Sarvjit Randhawa, as a Trump delegate.

Her tactics, particularly her work on behalf of election deniers such as Trump, have been criticized. Her law firm represented the former president during the congressional hearings over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. In the aftermath of the 2022 raid of Mar-a-Lago, Dhillon called the leadership of the FBI “thoroughly corrupt” and said the bureau and the Department of Justice had “engaged in elaborate meddling in multiple elections now over the last couple of elections.”

She also accused federal authorities of concealing President Biden’s handling of classified documents to influence the outcome of the 2022 election.

Dhillon raised money for Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, telling followers on Twitter to “STOP THE STEAL” and encouraging them to chip in to Trump’s election defense fund. She also represented failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, an election denier who may appear on Dhillon’s behalf at this week’s meeting.

Trump chose McDaniel to be RNC chair after he was elected in 2016 and endorsed her for reelection twice. But he has publicly stayed neutral in the contest between McDaniel and Dhillon.

“I can honestly say I like both of them,” he said last week on the podcast “The Water Cooler.” “Let them fight it out.”

Both candidates argue that the contest is being influenced by consultants who want lucrative contracts with the RNC. But the ugliest controversy in the race centers on religion.

Dhillon received national attention when she sang a Sikh invocation at the 2016 GOP convention. She and her allies allege that McDaniel supporters are undermining her candidacy by saying that Dhillon would jeopardize the party’s focus on religious freedom because she is not Christian; this included sharing a video of her delivering the Sikh prayer in Punjabi.

“I was shocked, disappointed and frankly disgusted that someone was willing to use bigotry as a tactic to whip votes for their preferred candidate,” North Dakota committee member Lori Hinz, a Dhillon supporter, emailed fellow committee members Thursday. She said she was urged by a McDaniel ally not to support Dhillon because of her religion.

The attacks on Dhillon’s faith echo those lobbed against her when she successfully ran for vice chair of the California Republican Party in 2013 — the convention hall was strewn with fliers that called her a “Taj Mahal princess,” and rivals whispered that she would slaughter a goat at the dais during meetings.

McDaniel, whose representatives did not respond to requests for comment, has denounced the slurs. She noted that she is Mormon, also a faith that has long been attacked.

“I wholeheartedly condemn religious bigotry in any form,” McDaniel said in a Fox News Digital article published Friday. “We are the party of faith, family and freedom, and these attacks have no place in our party or our politics. As a member of a minority faith myself, I would never condone such attacks.”

McDaniel, 49, is the former leader of the Michigan Republican Party. She stopped using her maiden name, Romney, once she became RNC chair, reportedly because Trump asked her to, according to the Washington Post. Sen. Mitt Romney has been fiercely critical of Trump, who has labeled him a loser.

The contest will be decided by a majority vote of the RNC’s 168 committee members. McDaniel released a list of more than 100 members who support her, backing that should guarantee her reelection. Dhillon declined to say how many members back her bid.

Among McDaniel’s supporters is Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, who praised her support of keeping his state’s caucus as the nation’s first Republican presidential voting contest in 2024 and pushed back at criticism of her over the party’s performance last year.

“The RNC chair doesn’t pick candidates and deals with what’s handed to them,” Kaufmann said, pointing to victories in his state and others.

Dhillon’s fellow California RNC members — state party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson and Shawn Steel, husband of Orange County Republican Rep. Michelle Steel — are also backing McDaniel. Neither responded to requests for comment.

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, an ardent Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist, is also running for chair. He is expected to have marginal support at the RNC meeting this week at the Waldorf Astoria.

A private candidate forum is scheduled for Wednesday evening, and the chair vote is expected to take place Friday.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

In Defense Of Jeff Sessions As Our Next Attorney General

jeff-sessionsHaving lost the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, and now with minorities in both the House and the Senate, Democrats have scrambled to throw roadblocks in the way of the incoming administration in an effort to slow down the inevitable policy changes that will soon affect every area of national policy, including the administration of justice. To that end, Sen. Jeff Sessions has been attacked ever since Trump nominated him to be the next attorney general of the United States. The familiar leitmotif is that Sessions is a racist, stemming from decades-old, questionable allegations of potentially racist statements. A further implication is the tired canard that many men of his age and background — white, Southern Republican lawmakers — are inclined to be racist, guilty until proven otherwise.

But what is Sessions’ true flaw? He is a conservative Republican who believes in traditional conservative policies and does not pay homage to political correctness to score political points.

Here is Sessions’ actual record on civil rights issues:

Sessions sought to amend the Violence Against Women Act so that it would actually help vulnerable women, instead of blindly supporting the act because of its name. With Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sessions led senate efforts to pass the Finding Fugitive Sex Offender Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Sessions has worked tirelessly to pass bipartisan legislation to protect and support the victims of crime, enact policies for safer prisons, and promote fair sentencing practices, issue areas important to minority communities. He worked across the aisle with Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2003 to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act, providing protection to perhaps the most voiceless members of our society.

Sessions voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, deeming it a vital protection for voting rights, though he recognized the act’s shortcomings and intrusiveness in some respects.

He understands the value of law enforcement, who are on the front lines of protecting Americans’ rights and safety, and has sought to work with law enforcement officers instead of criticizing and demeaning them, as has become so fashionable these days.

Sessions has supported strong voter ID measures and other procedures to protect the integrity of elections, rightly recognizing that when elections are stolen, it is often the underprivileged who are the greatest victims, because they have little recourse.

Sessions prosecuted civil rights activists under charges of fraudulently changing the votes of African-American voters in 1985, earning him the derision of liberals for being racist despite the fact that he was seeking to vindicate minority voting rights, based on complaints by African-American officials and voters that others in their community had committed fraud.

Sessions first began his efforts to achieve sentencing parity for drug offenders in 2001. Nine years later, he finally managed to realize this goal by working with Sen. Dick Durbin to pass the Crack Cocaine Fair Sentencing Act in 2010. This legislation substantially benefits minority drug offenders who previously were subjected to wide sentencing disparities vis-à-vis powder cocaine users.

Sessions opposed George Wallace in the 1960s in Alabama, prosecuted actual racists, and led Senate efforts to honor the civil rights movement and leaders. Former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and Labor Secretary Tom Perez has repeatedly praised Sessions in speeches.

Sessions’ career as both a prosecutor and Senator has been devoted to upholding the rule of law. He has done so because he is the kind of man and leader who will fight for what is right and what is best despite the criticism he faces, from whatever quarter.

Those who have worked with Sessions and know his character have strongly endorsed Sessions. His diverse supporters include the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, President Bill Clinton’s FBI Director Louis Freeh, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Victims of Crime and Leniency of Alabama, former Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Gerald Reynolds, several former U.S. attorneys general, 25 state attorneys general, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Albert Turner Jr., son of the African-American activists prosecuted for voter fraud, rejects the idea that Sessions is a racist: “He is not a racist. … He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. … I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity.” Former African-American Democratic Congressman Artur Davis described the voter ID laws that Sessions supports as “the right thing” to help prevent “the wholesale manufacture of ballots [, which is] the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community.”

African-American Alabama Democratic Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross said of his long relationship with Sessions, “We’ve spoken about everything from civil rights to race relations and we agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people. We both acknowledge that there are no perfect men, but we continue to work daily to do the right thing for all people.” The African-American founders of Victims and Friends United, a diverse organization devoted to protecting the rights of victims of crime, stated in their endorsement letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “We have searched his background and could find no evidence that he is biased toward people of color.”

Prior to his years of service in the Senate, Sessions served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, meaning he was the chief federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Alabama, and later as attorney general of Alabama. Few attorneys general have been so well qualified for the job of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, as is Sessions.

Liberals lauded the attorneys general during the Obama administration, while conveniently ignoring how the Department of Justice was being turned into a political tool to advance progressive social policies instead of enforcing the law as it is supposed to do. Unequal enforcement of the law threatens all citizens. It is not the place of the attorney general to make new law, but rather to enforce the existing federal laws enacted by the legislature, or enshrined in our Constitution.

Jeff Sessions is precisely the sort of leader that the Department of Justice needs to protect the rights of all citizens — including women and minorities — through the equal application of the law and the even-handed promotion of justice. Liberal opponents do themselves no credit by attempting to assassinate the character of a good public servant in the pursuit of a quixotic goal. President-elect Trump is entitled to appoint cabinet members of his choosing, so long as they are fit for the job, as Sessions indisputably is — and as his Senate colleagues well know. Sessions should be swiftly confirmed so that the new administration can proceed with the task of filling out the rest of the top Department of Justice appointments, and then get on with the business of enforcing federal law throughout the land.

harmeet-close-up-shotHarmeet Kaur Dhillon is a trial lawyer in San Francisco at the Dhillon Law Group, and currently serves as the RNC committeewoman from California. From 2013 to 2016, she was the vice chair of the California Republican Party.

Some big-name California Republicans among Trump delegates

As reported by the Associated Press:

Mitt Romney, John McCain and other prominent Republicans have distanced themselves from Donald Trump, but the billionaire businessman’s list of delegates from California released Monday includes Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House.

Trump’s line-up of delegates also includes Reps. Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter and Dennis Revell, a son-in-law of Ronald Reagan.

In California, Republican presidential campaigns select delegates that are awarded in the June 7 primary, based on the outcome of voting in its 53 congressional districts and the statewide tally.

Trump’s list also includes Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California GOP, state Senate GOP leader Jean Fuller, former congressman Doug Ose and former state Sen. Tony Strickland. …

Click here to read the full story

After 2014 Successes, CA GOP Leaders Seek Second Term

Two years ago, Jim Brulte chastised his party for losing seats to laziness.

“There were three Assembly seats that were lost because we got lazy,” Brulte said shortly after taking the helm as chairman of the California Republican Party in March 2013. “Leaders lead by example, and we have to be in the precincts working, standing shoulder to shoulder with our volunteers.”

Now that’s he reclaimed those legislative seats lost to laziness, Brulte is asking state party delegates to reelect him to a second two-year term as leader of the state’s rebuilding minority party.

“We can build upon our successes this year,” Brulte wrote to party delegates, according to a letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “Working together we showed what our party could achieve. We need to build upon that success … because our state, our counties and our cities are too important to leave to those who do not share our philosophy.”

The 2014 election marked the first time in 20 years Republicans defeated a Democratic incumbent. The state party prevented a Democratic supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature as it made inroads with solidly Democratic regions of the state. For years, Republicans have been without any state or federal elected officials in the Bay Area. That changed in November with Catharine Baker’s win in the 16th Assembly District.

CA GOP vice chair “relieved” at news

CA Republican Party Vice Chair Harmeet Dhillon, who also announced plans to seek another term on the board of directors, said Monday she was “relieved” that Brulte was interested in keeping the job.

Jim Brulte“He has turned this party around, and it has been a privilege to be one of the many people on his team,” Dhillon wrote on her Facebook page. “We worked hard and applied a disciplined focus to achieve the goals we accomplished last month. But California needs more. We need a vibrant two-party system and a marketplace of ideas. We need lower taxes, less regulation, innovation, job growth, a respect for life and a respect for the rule of law, starting with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We need freedom from government. We are far from these goals.”

A first-generation immigrant, Dhillon has served as one of the party’s main advocates in its effort to court non-traditional GOP voters. She’ll finally have some help with the recent election of four Asian-American Republican women to state and local offices in Orange County.

CA GOP finances up, registration down

When Brulte and Dhillon took over the helm, the state party was deep in debt. Now, as of Dec. 1, according to state campaign finance disclosure reports, the California Republican Party has $1.48 million in cash on hand. This year, state Republicans have raised $19.2 million — more than double the amount in 2012.

In addition to stronger finances, the party has made a serious effort to broaden its appeal. State delegates, who have traditionally felt excluded from the party, described this year’s spring convention as a “blockbuster” step forward in terms of inclusiveness. Once relegated to the margins, the California Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian Republicans, hosted a hospitality suite that was packed the entire night.  Other changes included an ASL interpreter on hand for deaf and hard-of-hearing delegates.

“We’re pushing the party outside of its comfort zone,” Brulte said of the shift in tone. “And we’re already seeing the benefits.”

But there’s still work to be done, especially in the area of voter registration. For yet another year, Republicans saw their voter registration numbers dwindle to just 28.2 percent. Republicans have watched their share of the electorate consistently decline from 35.6 percent in 1998, according to Capitol Weekly.

Will 2015 Spring Convention avoid party drama?

With the party’s two top leaders seeking reelection, state Republicans hope to enjoy a low-key spring convention and avoid the negative headlines that plagued its most recent gathering in Los Angeles. Coverage of the party’s September convention focused on internal emails by party leaders that were leaked to the press.

Those emails included Brulte’s blunt criticism of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the GOP nominee for state controller who failed to endorse Neel Kashkari’s campaign for governor. Swearengin lost anyway to Democrat Betty Yee, 54 percent to 46 percent.


Brulte, a former minority leader in both the California State Senate and Assembly, was elected chairman of the California Republican Party with 90 percent of the vote in 2013. But don’t expect either Brulte or Dhillon to rest on their laurels.

“In the coming days and weeks I will be reaching out to state party delegates and volunteer groups, seeking their support in the quest to continue this service,” Dhillon said.

The Spring 2015 Organizing Convention will be held from Feb. 27 to March 1 in Sacramento.

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com