- An acerbic critic of liberals and an entrenched advocate of the GOP’s pet causes, the California-based attorney told Fox News that the party needs a change of leadership in order to win.
California attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a Trump supporter, whose firm represents the former president, is running for the position of the Republican National Committee chair. Announcing her bid on Fox News on Dec. 5, Dhillon, who described herself as “a fighter,” told host Tucker Carlson that “Republicans are tired of losing and I think we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win.” The GOP “can’t keep running elections like we did in the ’90s and the 2000s,” she said, stressing the need “to modernize to compete with the Democrats dollar for dollar in the ways they fundraise, the way they deliver their ballots to the ballot boxes.” She also added the need to revamp messaging to be “fresh and positive and not just reactive to news cycles and what the Democrats are doing.”
A longtime conservative activist, Dhillon has served as chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association and as a chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. She is currently a national committeewoman of the RNC for California.
An acerbic critic of liberals and an entrenched advocate of Republican pet causes, real and imaginary, the Sikh American is a Fox News fixture. She has appeared on the network’s prime-time shows to discuss hot-button topics like vaccine mandates, Hunter Biden’s laptop and the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate. Apart from Trump, her law firm has represented several top MAGA officials, including Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
In a letter sent to the 168 members of the RNC, Dhillon wrote that she came to the decision of running for the chair after “much prayer and discussions” with her family, law partners and nonprofit colleagues. “No one can doubt the fact that the base of our great party desperately years for a change in leadership,” read the letter.
She tweeted saying, if elected, one of her first job offers will be to the conservative organizer and activist Scott Presler “to inspire and train our ground forces on voter registration and getting every ballot to the ballot box by all legal means!”
The committee’s 168 members will hold a vote to determine the RNC chairmanship at the committee’s annual winter meeting, which is set to be held in late January in Dana Point, California.
Ohio State Sen. Niraj Antani, a Republican, tweeted in support of Dhillon’s candidacy. “My friend Harmeet Dhillon @pnjaban would make an excellent @GOP Chair! Excited for her candidacy and what she could do for our party.”
Dhillon’s entrance into the race marks “the most serious” challenge to chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Politico notes. Mike Lindell, the MyPillow executive and Trump backer has also launched a campaign for the post. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who ran an unsuccessful bid for New York governor, has also said he is considering a bid, though he has yet to declare his candidacy.
She served as a legal adviser to former President Trump’s campaign in 2020 in which “she advocated for the Supreme Court to step in and intervene in the results, specifically calling out Trump-nominated Justice Amy Comey Barrett to come through,” the Daily Beast reported at the time.
Dhillon was born in Chandigarh to a Punjabi Sikh family in 1969. Her family moved to the United States when she was a child so that her father, Tejpal Singh Dhillon, could pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon. Her family eventually settled in Smithfield, North Carolina.
After graduating from high school at age 16, she attended Dartmouth College. She became a writer and eventually editor-in-chief at The Dartmouth Review, an independent conservative student newspaper. In an October 2022 profile, Grid News wrote that “Dhillon’s advocacy for fringe right-wing activism appears to date back to her teenage years.” The student staff was accused by fellow students, staff and administrators “of using the publication to stoke controversy on campus, often at the expense of minority students and faculty,” the profile noted.
In 1988, the paper published a story “about an African-American music professor who accused three students of harassment,” the profile said, adding that the “two were later reinstated by a judge and the case involved free speech and race.” Speaking about that experience, Dhillon told SFGate it was “a seminal moment in my life.” She told the paper that “it was clear that my talents were more with writing and being with other people than being a doctor.”
After graduating from Dartmouth, she attended law school, graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review. After law school, she clerked for Judge Paul Victor Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Her career in politics took off in 2004 when she hosted a house party for a presidential debate between President George W. Bush and John Kerry. Initially, San Francisco Republicans were weary of her because of her ACLU past. In 2008, she ran in the Assembly race and received 17 percent of the vote, which was the best for a Republican in her district since 1994.
In 2016, she delivered a Sikh prayer at the opening ceremony on the second day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time she told The Mercury News that she hoped that her reading the Ardaas would show that the Republican Party is truly diversified. “I think this is an inclusive party. I’ve never felt anything but included since Day One.”
Dhillon has been married three times. She was first in an arranged marriage, which ended after the man abused her. She was then married to Dr. Kanwarjit Singh. In 2011, she married her third husband, Sarvjit Randhawa.”
Her first husband was a doctor from India and it was an arranged marriage. As she told Voice of America in a November 2021 interview that she was abused and the marriage lasted a year. “He seemed like a good solid candidate and unfortunately it did not go that well,” she told VOA. “I was a victim of domestic violence and managed to leave the marriage after a year and went to law school two weeks after I left my husband,” she told VOA.
She then married Dr. Kanwarjit Singh, a physician at New York Medical Center. In 1995, Singh was shot at by a drunk man. All the bullets went wild but one, which fractured several ribs, The New York Times reported. The suspect was identified as Abu Muhammad. The man screamed racist slurs at Singh, even calling him a “Hindu.” “Of course, my husband is a Sikh, not a Hindu,” Dhillon told the Times. “He did a surgical residency in San Francisco, but after three years he decided to change his field to internal medicine,” Dhillon told the Times of her husband. “He wanted an easier life style. He wanted to settle down.”
Dhillon has often been a victim of racial profiling, facing abuse after being mistaken for a Hindu and a Muslim. She has been a relentless defender of the civil rights of the Sikh community, particularly after 9/11 when the Sikhs were mistakenly targeted. When Dhillon was running for the California GOP Vice Chair seat in 2013, The Huffington Post had reported that Vera Eyzendooren, the president of the San Bernadino County Federation of Republican Women, wrote on Facebook that “because of her religion her loyalty is to the Muslim religion.”