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MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell Is the Leader the RNC Deserves

Photo: Chris Seward/AP/Shutterstock

The January 6 committee hearings revealed that in the desperate final weeks of Donald Trump’s administration, a divide emerged between the conspiracy theorists loudly promoting bogus election-fraud claims and wild legal strategies, such as Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and those who quietly urged the president to accept the 2020 election results. The latter group dubbed itself “Team Normal,” though, of course, many of them had promoted Trump’s awful policies for years and done little to publicly defend the U.S. election system from his baseless attacks in the lead-up to the Capitol riot.

Now a similar dynamic is playing out in the upcoming race to chair the Republican National Committee. Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and prominent 2020 election denier, has announced that he is challenging Ronna McDaniel, whom Trump selected for RNC chair in 2017 and who is running for a fourth term in January.

“I’m all in … and one of the things that one of the big donors said to me, he said, Mike, everybody wants you to be head of the RNC, some of them just don’t know it yet,” Lindell said on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, according to Axios.

At first, this may seem laughable. And indeed, many Twitter users were quick to post pillow-fight-related jokes and dismiss Lindell’s competency just because he’s under Justice Department investigation over the alleged breach of a voting system and had his phone seized by the FBI in a Hardee’s parking lot. But he did manage to take some hard and lumpy pillows and turn them into a business with annual revenues of more than $300 million (or so he claims). And the New York Times reported in October that he’s been using all that money to quietly bankroll the election-denier movement:

By his account, Mr. Lindell has spent as much as $40 million on conferences, activist networks, a digital media platform, legal battles and researchers that promote his theory of the case — the particularly outlandish conspiracy theory that the election was stolen through a complex, global plot to hack into voting machines.

But a New York Times analysis of advertising data, along with interviews with media executives and personalities, reveal that Mr. Lindell’s influence goes beyond funding activism: He is now at the heart of the right-wing media landscape.

Already the largest single advertiser on Fox News’s right-wing opinion prime-time lineup, according to data from the media analytics firm, MyPillow has since early last year become a critical financial supporter of an expanding universe of right-wing podcasters and influencers, many of whom keep election misinformation coursing through the daily discourse.

Lindell’s beef with McDaniel dates back at least a year. As Insider reports, he has accused her chair of working to keep him from filing a complaint to the Supreme Court that contained 70 pages of unsupported accusations of voter fraud about the 2020 election. He also attacked McDaniel for finally acknowledging – in November 2021 – that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States.

On Monday, Lindell said he wants to see the RNC do more to back election-denying candidates such as Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who lost their races in Arizona. “The RNC collects money and then they don’t do anything with election crime,” he complained to Bannon.

While Lindell claimed he’s spoken to RNC donors and state officials about his bid, his chances of success seem slim. Earlier this month, after failed New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin said he was thinking about challenging McDaniel, a majority of RNC members signed a letter backing her for another term. The letter was signed by 101 of the committee’s 168 voting members.

Trump has yet to weigh in on Lindell’s candidacy, and he may be tempted to reward him for doing more than almost anyone to keep his stolen-election myth alive. But turning on McDaniel would be awkward. She’s been a close ally, and he already released a video gushing about her performance as chair back in April.

So in all likelihood, McDaniel will carry on as RNC chair, and the Feds will hunt Lindell. Because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s the loud guardian of Trump’s 2020 lies. A wealthy protector. A Dark Knight of Election Denial.

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MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell Is the Leader the RNC Deserves