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It’s official: Trump picks Romney McDaniel for RNC post

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday publicly endorsed Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel to serve as the next head of the Republican National Committee, confirming reports he had picked her for the post.

“Ronna has been extremely loyal to our movement and her efforts were critical to our tremendous victory in Michigan, and I know she will bring the same passion to the Republican National Committee,” Trump said in a statement.

McDaniel issued a statement of her own, saying she was “deeply grateful and honored” for the nod by Trump.

“I’m excited to build on President-elect Trump’s victory and continue the work of making the RNC a strong institution that has produced historic Republican victories at every level of government,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with our RNC members, the new administration and our Republican majorities in Congress to ensure the American people get the change they voted for in November, and to make sure there is plenty of red on the map in the years to come.”

The RNC announced Wednesday that it will name McDaniel as deputy chair, an interim position pending her expected election as chairwoman next year when Reince Priebus formally leaves the post to serve as Trump’s chief of staff.

Bob Paduchik, director of Trump’s Ohio campaign, will serve as RNC deputy co-chair.

“I’m excited to have a highly effective leader in Ronna McDaniel as RNC deputy chair, and I look forward to her serving as the party’s chairman in 2017,” Trump said.

McDaniel is the niece of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who publicly opposed Trump’s election but has since met with the president elect and was in the running to serve as his Secretary of State before Trump settled on Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

McDaniel has led the Michigan Republican Party since February 2015. She was a vocal Trump supporter this fall and warmed up large crowds at several rallies for the New York businessman, who broke a string of six straight Michigan wins by Democratic presidential candidates.

Republicans enjoyed a near wave election last month in Michigan, returning majorities to the state House, state Supreme Court and U.S. House while picking up a series of long-coveted education seats.

McDaniel and Paduchik will likely both wield power in the national party next year, although their future roles have not yet been defined. Current RNC co-chair Sharon Day is expected to join Priebus in the Trump administration.

“Ronna and Bob were completely committed to President-elect’s Trump’s success in this campaign, and they are going to keep up the enthusiasm for our America First agenda as they fulfill the RNC’s mission of helping our Republican candidates to victory at all levels,” Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in a statement.

McDaniel is among a growing number of Michiganians who Trump has tapped for important positions in or near his administration.

He recently picked West Michigan school choice advocate Betsy DeVos to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education and named Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to lead his new American Manufacturing Council. Dr. Ben Carson, a Detroit native, is Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It’s not immediately clear McDaniel will leave her state post early to join the RNC as deputy chair. Her expected move creates a wide open race for state party chair. She was planning to seek re-election at the state convention in February.

Scott Hagerstrom, state director for the Trump campaign, is the only announced candidate for the Michigan post, but several other potential candidates are exploring possible runs.

Michigan Republicans on Wednesday celebrated McDaniel’s pending promotion, including U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, who said she is “as talented and tenacious as they come.”

Gov. Rick Snyder called McDaniel “an incredible leader” an “excellent choice” to lead the national party.

“Ronna’s commitment to her party helped defy the odds and delivered our state to the Republican presidential nominee for the first time since 1988,” said Snyder, who did not endorse Trump but has congratulated him on the win.

“I’ve had the honor of working closely with Ronna through this election cycle, and I know firsthand about her talent, smart political foresight and strategic advice. Ronna will continue to lead the GOP to future success. I’m proud to call her a friend and excited for the entire country to see the hard work and determination of this great Michigander.”