How Donald Trump hopes to to retain control of the GOP

How Donald Trump hopes to use party machinery to retain control of the GOP

Donald Trump. Credit: AFP file photo.

As President Donald Trump brazenly seeks to delay the certification of the election in hopes of overturning his defeat, he is also mounting a less high-profile but similarly audacious bid to keep control of the Republican National Committee even after he leaves office.

Ronna McDaniel, Trump’s hand-picked chair, has secured the president’s support for her reelection to another term in January, when the party is expected to gather for its winter meeting. But her intention to run with Trump’s blessing has incited a behind-the-scenes proxy battle, dividing Republicans between those who believe the national party should not be a political subsidiary of the outgoing president and others happy for Trump to remain in control of it.

While many Republicans are hesitant to openly criticise their president at a moment when he is refusing to admit he has lost, the debate crystallises the larger question about the party’s identity and whether it will operate as a vessel for Trump’s ambitions to run again in four years.

Trump will have no political infrastructure once he leaves office except for a political action committee he recently formed, and absent a formal campaign, he is hoping to lean on the RNC to effectively give him one, people familiar with his thinking said.

The continuing influence of Trump could also have implications for some of the national committee’s most critical assets: Its voter data and donor lists contain thousands of names of contributors and detailed information about supporters.

Trump sees control of the lists that he helped build over the past four years as a way to keep a grip on power — and to neutralise potential challengers for supremacy over the party, according to Republicans close to the White House.

This power play is alarming a number of RNC members, party strategists and former committee aides, who are highly uneasy about ceding control of the committee to a potential candidate in 2024, a step that they fear would shatter the party’s long-standing commitment to neutrality in nominating contests.“Trump always wants to use other people’s money,” said former Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Northern Virginia Republican who lost her reelection in 2018 thanks to the suburban anti-Trump wave that also felled the president this month.