Days before that, Oscar Brock, a committee member from Tennessee, made a public appeal to members, tying Ms. McDaniel to Mr. Trump and saying it was “clearly time” for the party to move on from Mr. Trump’s leadership. And early in January, the Alabama Republican Party’s steering committee announced a vote of no confidence in Ms. McDaniel.
In an interview, Mr. Brock said that he remained neutral in the fight for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, but that he was convinced Ms. McDaniel was beholden to the former president and his bid for another nomination.
“My loyalty is to running an independent primary, and I want a chairperson who can do that,” he said.
Shelly Gibson, a committee member from Guam, said on Monday she had received 113 emails that day about the leadership race. Others reported voice mail boxes clogged with messages, thousands of emails and even visits to their homes from activists supporting Ms. Dhillon.
For a majority of the members, that was all noise.
“Members of the committee are a tightknit group, kind of like a family,” said Cindy Costa, an R.N.C. member from South Carolina. “We don’t get into all this political stuff.”
The contest had an unexpected twist on Thursday, when Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida waded into the fray, praising Ms. Dhillon and urging “new blood” at the committee. The comments were notable, given Mr. Trump’s decision to publicly shy away from making an endorsement. While Mr. Trump has stayed silent, some of his top campaign aides were spotted circulating Thursday at the event in a luxury seaside resort. Last night, Kellyanne Conway, a long serving Trump administration aide, was the guest speaker at dinner.
But as a proxy campaign to gauge Mr. Trump’s sway over the Republican Party, the race for party leader was imperfect. Ms. Dhillon was a co-chair of the election-denying group Lawyers for Trump in 2020 and never made Mr. Trump’s hold on the party an issue in her effort to unseat Ms. McDaniel. Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow and a conspiracy-minded Trump loyalist, also challenged Ms. McDaniel.