In a statement, Ms. McDaniel attempted to allay some of the concerns, stating: “The 168 RNC members elect who will lead the RNC. I hope they will gain your support and that is the most important confirmation. “
A committee spokesman, Mike Reed, said Ms. McDaniel and the committee had always followed the statute not to support candidates in Republican primaries. “This policy of being completely neutral in the primaries will continue as long as she is chairwoman,” said Reed.
Senior Republican officials near Mrs. McDaniel said they were already looking for new agreements between the RNC and the Trump campaign on the donor and data lists that would provide Mr. Trump with copies of certain lists but would also make them available to other candidates through the committee. In addition, these Republicans said there are limits to how influential the RNC can be in the party primaries.
Ms. McDaniel, a native of Michigan, has a gold-plated political pedigree: she is the niece of Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and the granddaughter of George Romney, a three-time governor of Michigan. She earned Mr. Trump’s trust in part by asking him to travel to her home state during the 2016 campaign, thanks to him for helping him win there.
She has told people that she did not intend to seek another term after 2022, said a person briefed on the discussions. This could ensure their exit before the 2024 presidential cycle begins in earnest.
Nobody has shown up to challenge Ms. McDaniel yet, but some influential Republicans are trying to instill support for Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who has just lost his re-election bid and is popular among pro-Trump and Trump-skeptical Republicans alike in Washington. Mr Gardner did not reply to two emails asking if he was interested in the chairmanship.
The current and past committee members who could prove to be the most impressive have advised staff that they will not run. These include Mr Barbour – whose uncle, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, took over the party after the Republicans lost the presidency in 1992 – and Reince Priebus, Mr Trump’s first chief of staff and former RNC chairman.