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

Ted Cruz Gets Yelled At By California RNC Delegates – VIDEO

In the following clip from Showtime’s Circus, Ted Cruz gets heckled and booed by California delegates on the floor, directly in front of him, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, as he makes his “vote your conscience” non-endorsement of Donald Trump.  (Thank you to delegation member Greg Flap Cole.)

NeverTrump’s Nemesis: California Delegation to Republican Convention

U.S. Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX24HM9

CLEVELAND, Ohio — California was the state where Ted Cruz was going to make his last, decisive stand against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Instead, the California delegation to the Republican National Convention is Donald Trump’s doomsday weapon.

The state’s 172 delegates were almost entirely “hand-picked by Trump,” the Sacramento Bee reports. And the sheer size of the delegation — the convention’s largest — makes it an effective tool for Trump to use to stop any “NeverTrump” insurgency at the convention.

The California contingent has been housed far away from the convention site, 60 miles west of Cleveland, in the Lake Erie town of Sandusky. The venue: the Kalahari water park and resort, where the drought-conscious Californian delegation might enjoy the sight of precious fresh water being wasted in every direction. (Some were not so impressed by the atmosphere, reminiscent of  National Lampoon’s Vacation: “It reminds me of a bad Chevy Chase movie,” one delegate told the Bee.)

Yet the delegation will be seated in the front rows for the duration of the convention, because it will present the most visible and enthusiastic bloc of Trump supporters in the Quicken Loans Arena.

The San Francisco Chronicle elaborates:

The 172-member California delegation, the nation’s largest, is Trump’s designated enforcer.

“We are the backstop,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte — in Hawaiian shirt — told me near the Zanzibar.

“If you want to mess, bring it on,” Trump’s California state director, Tim Clark — in flip-flops and shorts — explained. “This delegation was built for a fight. If the Never Trumpers want to start something, they have to go through us.”

Some members of the delegation have been on the Trump train forever; some, like Republican National Committeeman Shaun Steel, once called Trump a “clown” but now feel he is the best, and the only, alternative to Hillary Clinton. And one delegate, billionaire Peter Thiel — who is not staying in Sandusky — has a prime time speaking slot on the last night of the convention, when Trump accepts the GOP nomination.

The delegation has come a long way from early April, when the Cruz campaign mockedTrump’s California operation, predicting that Trump would fail to find enough delegates in each of the state’s 53 congressional districts.

Today, the delegation is strong, loyal, and — as even the East Bay Times observed — diverse, with youth, women, and minorities all represented amply.

Even the Chronicle acknowledged that the delegation’s vibe has changed. No longer is it made up of the “white-haired state senators” and “the political fanboys,” but grassroots activists like Rachel Casey, the woman who was infamously assaulted by anti-Trump demonstrators in full view of the media last month.

California was once among the states most skeptical of Trump. Today, in Cleveland, it is Trump’s most loyal.

Republicans hope that the rest of the party catches the same spirit.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com