Ronna McDaniel to resign as Republican National Committee chair days after Super Tuesday

Her resignation is expected to occur at an RNC spring training meeting in Texas.

February 26, 2024, 5:09 AM

After seven years at the helm of the GOP, Ronna McDaniel will step down from her post as chair of the Republican National Committee on March 8, she said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

McDaniel's resignation is expected to take effect after Super Tuesday on March 5.

McDaniel said that she would resign at the party’s spring training meeting in Houston, Texas, so as to "allow our nominee to select a Chair of their choosing."

Hand-picked by Donald Trump to serve in the role shortly after his 2016 election, McDaniel is reported to have arranged her departure with the former president, who is far ahead of his sole primary challenger, Nikki Haley, in the delegate fight for the 2024 nomination.

"The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee and it has always been my intention to honor that tradition," McDaniel said. "I remain committed to winning back the White House and electing Republicans up and down the ballot in November."

PHOTO: Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican Party, delivers remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 27, 2023 in Simi Valley, Calif.
Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican Party, delivers remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 27, 2023 in Simi Valley, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, FILE

Trump endorsed current North Carolina GOP Chair and RNC general counsel Michael Whatley in early February to replace McDaniel as the new chair of the RNC. He endorsed his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to replace current RNC co-chair Drew McKissick. RNC party rules mandate that their chair and co-chair must be of opposite sexes.

Trump also endorsed one of his senior advisers, Chris LaCivita, for chief operating officer. There is no one currently serving in that role for the RNC. When he announced his slate of RNC leadership endorsements, Trump predicted that the shakeup would come following the South Carolina GOP primary election, which he won on Saturday.

During remarks at his victory party in Columbia, Trump forecasted the election of Whatley, a strong supporter of his baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. It "looks to me like he's going to be going on to the national Republican party," Trump said.

"That's my kind of guy. He had hundreds of lawyers … to make sure they didn't cheat and they didn't cheat in North Carolina [during the 2020 election]," Trump said Saturday.

McDaniel's resignation will take effect just days ahead of Super Tuesday, when a number of delegate-rich states vote in their presidential primaries, and over a week after her home state of Michigan will decide on a Republican nominee.

McKissick, who was also floated as a potential option to replace McDaniel as chair, dodged a question from ABC News on Saturday over whether he'd go against Whatley for the position, instead insisting he's focused on working with the Trump campaign and the party on electing and supporting former President Donald Trump.

"I'm a team guy," said McKissick, who was at Trump's South Carolina victory party Saturday night, when asked about a possible bid against Whatley. "I'm going to work with the campaign and the RNC. Period. End of discussion."

PHOTO: South Carolina Republican Party State Chairman, Drew McKissick, greets the crowd at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party on Aug. 5, 2023 in Columbia, S.C.
South Carolina Republican Party State Chairman, Drew McKissick, greets the crowd at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party on Aug. 5, 2023 in Columbia, S.C.
Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images, FILE

Some members of the RNC told ABC News over the weekend they expected the announcement of McDaniel’s resignation to come ahead of Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.

Haley has blasted Trump and his campaign for what she calls an attempt to take over the party, endorsing his political allies and family members for executive positions in the RNC and accusing the former president of planning to use the organization as a way to pay his legal bills.

On the day of the South Carolina GOP primary, when asked who she would endorse as chair of the RNC, Haley said, "it wouldn't be a family member of a candidate."

"I would hope that the people in the RNC know that they have the responsibility to put in people in the RNC who are going to look out in the best interest of all of the Republican Party, not just one person," Haley said to reporters.

McDaniel’s resignation comes at a critical time for the national party. Following the former president’s endorsement of his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, she said in an interview that "every single penny" of RNC funds will be devoted to reelecting her father-in-law. Lara Trump’s statement led many to believe that there could be a possibility the RNC could pay some of the former president’s legal fees.

ABC News news previously reported that the former president's campaign insists that RNC funds won't cover his legal fees.

But some members of the RNC are working behind the scenes to ensure that does not happen.

Draft resolutions have been circulated to Republican National Committee members, which, if approved, would prevent the organization from covering his legal fees and would prohibit the party from treating him as the presumptive presidential nominee until he secures the required majority of 1,215 delegates, which is likely to take several more weeks.

Republican U.S. candidates participate in their third debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential  campaign  in Miami, Florida
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks to the audience at the third Republican candidates' U.S. presidential debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Mike Segar/Reuters

McDaniel, the niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, has shepherded the Republican party through seven years of profound transformation, including most of Trump’s tenure in the White House, the 2020 general election, the 2022 midterm elections, and the 2024 presidential primary, including early state voting in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

"It has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve the Republican National Committee for seven years as Chairwoman to elect Republicans and grow our Party," McDaniel said in her statement.

“Some of my proudest accomplishments include firing Nancy Pelosi, winning the popular vote in 2022, creating an Election Integrity Department, building the committee’s first small dollar grassroots donor program, strengthening our state parties through our Growing Republican Organizations to Win program, expanding the Party through minority outreach at our community centers, and launching Bank Your Vote to get Republicans to commit to voting early,” she said.

Because McDaniel is stepping down from her role, the next step to elect a new chair and co-chair would be a vote from the majority of the 168 RNC members present at their next gathering, according to party rules, which would be the spring training meeting on March 8.

To have their names placed in nomination, a candidate should have at least the majority vote of the RNC in each of three states.

ABC News' SooRin Kim and Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.