Behind the scenes, there has been lobbying for the party chairmanship even before an opening became public. And election-year staff changes have been expected at the committee for a while.
Mr. Trump’s influence on the party is not absolute. Last year, he had endorsed Mr. Whatley as co-chairman, but Mr. Whatley withdrew after trailing Drew McKissick, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. Mr. Trump also endorsed Joe Gruters for R.N.C. treasurer, but Mr. Gruters lost in 2023.
That loss, however, came when Mr. Trump was in the early stages of running again for president, not on the cusp of securing the nomination, when party officials are likely to be more deferential.
Mr. McKissick is now the R.N.C.’s co-chairman (the party rules designate one male and one female co-chair). He spoke with Mr. Trump in recent days and expressed his interest in the job of chairman if Ms. McDaniel were to leave, according to three people briefed on his thinking.
Several prominent Republican activists have begun lobbying against potential replacements as co-chairwoman. For instance, Laura Loomer, a far-right activist who supports Mr. Trump, is publicly opposing Jessica Patterson, the chair of the California Republican Party, for that position.