Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin on Wednesday signaled he would not seek the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, acknowledging in a statement he is falling short of a needed majority.
But at the same time, the Long Island congressman and 2022 nominee for New York governor urged party officials to select a new leader after a disappointing midterm result for Republicans in Congress.
“I won’t be running for RNC Chair at this time with [current chair Ronna] McDaniel’s reelection pre-baked by design, but that doesn’t mean she should even be running again," Zeldin said.
Zeldin's decision to back off from a bid came hours after Democrats held a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, growing the party's majority in the chamber by one seat. Republicans are expected to have a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but far smaller than was initially projected.
Zeldin lost the race for governor this year against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. But the race was the closest gubernatorial contest in decades in Democratic-heavy New York.
Zeldin, in the weeks after the election, urged Republicans to take a look at their leadership nationally, and he was held up as a model by some in the party as an example of how the GOP can compete in suburban areas of the country.
He was also credited with having unusually strong coattails that enabled down-ballot Republican victories in Congress.
"Change is desperately needed, and there are many leaders, myself included, ready and willing to step up to ensure our party retools and transforms as critical elections fast approach, namely the 2024 Presidential and Congressional races," he said. "However, the issue is Chairwoman McDaniel's re-election appears to already be pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter."