Vote early, or get used to losing: RNC chair hopeful seeks to reinvent GOP election strategy
California attorney Harmeet Dhillon is running against three-time incumbent Ronna McDaniel in Jan. 27 election to determine next chair of the Republican National Committee.
Harmeet Dhillon isn't just running for Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman to knock out three-time incumbent Ronna McDaniel and gain control of the party apparatus; she's seeking to update and reinvent GOP election strategy itself to ensure the party finally finds a way to match Democrat voter engagement.
Outlining her vision in a recent interview with Just The News, Dhillon, a California attorney, began by highlighting how the GOP was caught flat-footed when Democrats reshaped election laws to their liking under the pretext of the COVID pandemic — and left the new, Democrat-friendly rules in place indefinitely after the public health emergency waned.
"Before COVID and during COVID, our voting laws have changed quite a bit," she recounted, "largely at the impetus of Democrat activists, funded by Democrat political action committees as well as litigation through lawyers like Marc Elias, and we didn't really have an answer for that for most of the time over the last several years.
"In the last couple of years, the RNC has begun to spend on election litigation. I appreciate that — I'm one of the lawyers doing that work, amongst many others — but the net result is during COVID, particularly, there was an acceleration towards changes in the laws to promote early voting. And while that early voting, coupled with a lack of voter rolls being clean and limited to legitimate voters, creates risks, we are going to lose every election if we don't begin competing with Democrats" aggressively in this arena.
"And so I think the focus needs to shift," she continued, "from encouraging people to show up on Election Day and vote, like they did in Arizona [in 2022], where liberal voting officials knew that 70% of the voters on Election Day were going to be Republican voters, so it was going to negatively impact Republican voters" when, as in Maricopa County, ballots were printed incorrectly. There, as she put it, "Republican voters were basically sitting ducks in a biased machine."
The new election rules call for a new, more targeted kind of Republican ground game, explained Dhillon, who was featured in "2000 Mules," Dinesh D'Souza's recent documentary on ballot manipulation and voter fraud.
"We have to be focusing on getting our ballots in as early as possible," she said. "There are different words for that, but at the Republican National Lawyers Association, which I chair, it's called claiming your ballot early, claim your ballot. We also call it chasing ballots, and the focus is less on getting voters to the polling places on Election Day, but [instead] getting their ballots into the ballot boxes as early as possible. It actually makes for efficient campaigning, it allows us to focus on a smaller and smaller universe of votes we need to chase."
Restoring election integrity through historically proven security safeguards should remain a key party objective, Dhillon believes, but pending the realization of that ideal, the party must play the hand it's dealt.
"I would have a strong preference," she said, "for supporting that when we get control of the legislature and the governor's house, we change the laws to traditional high-integrity laws: We institute voter ID, we have maybe some early voting — which is convenient particularly for older voters and people whose work doesn't allow them to vote on election days — there also needs to be an emphasis on cleaning up the voter rolls and purging voters who have died, have moved ... but until we can make those changes to the law we have to emphasize and excel at early voting."
Mail-in balloting is at its most secure and reliable "when coupled with tracking your ballot, like using a software like many states have called Ballot Trax," she said. "We use it in California to track your ballot and make sure your ballot gets in."
Early voting, Dhillon pointed out, doesn't necessarily mean voting by mail. There are "other ways of voting," she noted. "If you're in a rural area, you may not be able to do this easily, but let's say in San Francisco, instead of mailing in your ballot, if you don't like doing that, you can actually go to City Hall and vote early in person, that's easy to do. And many states have that, like Florida has a lot of early voting. In Georgia, you can go in person and vote early. I personally like going in person and voting early."
Getting tradition-bound Republicans to learn to love early voting is an uphill battle, Dhillon recognizes.
"[A] lot of people do not like the early voting," she acknowledged. "So I want to be clear that my preference is for in-person voting and limited early voting for people for convenience or for age accommodations. But we have to be realistic that until we can change those laws, we must take advantage of the laws we have."
In her race for RNC chair, Dhillon is also campaigning on a platform of perestroika in the party apparatus: stricter fiscal discipline, managerial reform, and administrative restructuring.
"The Republican National Committee raised a lot of money and touts that," she said, "but it also spends a huge amount of money to raise that money, and the Democrats do not have this sort of whole network of middlemen with their hands outstretched to take the lion's share of the donor dollars. So I would do better in contracting and negotiating and tightening up our budgeting, spending donor money very responsibly, and making sure every dollar possible is going to elect Republicans throughout the country."
In a recent interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast, Dhillon revealed she would seek to open RNC offices in battleground states to shift party machinery and expand recruitment beyond Washington, D.C. to the rest of the country.
"I'd like to decentralize the RNC out of D.C.," she said. "We probably still have to have an office in D.C., but I want to move some of our operations to battleground states, where we need to win, and then hire workers there from all different backgrounds. Then we'd have the double benefit of people from America, who we need to get in touch with and who are close to those communities, working for us on the ground.
"We'd also get economies of efficiency of paying people non-D.C. salaries, and we would also get a much bigger talent pool than what we have in D.C., because a lot of Americans who are very talented don't want to live inside the Beltway. And I'm frankly one of them ... When you make people work in D.C. and have kind of a toxic work environment, you don't get the top people to work for you. We can change that under my RNC."
The election for RNC chair is set for Jan 27.