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RNC likely to be led by NC Republicans

With an impending leadership change atop the Republican National Committee (RNC), there is a strong possibility the reins of the GOP will be placed in the hands of two Republicans from North Carolina.

Recently, news broke that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel planned to resign following the South Carolina primary, reportedly asked to step aside by former President Donald Trump. The next question on politicos’ minds was, naturally, “Who is Trump backing to replace her?”

They didn’t have to wait long for some informed speculation, as at virtually the same time it was rumored that NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley was Trump’s pick to replace McDaniel and lead the Republican Party into the 2024 elections.

Now, it’s official. Whatley, with the support of Trump, has announced his candidacy to lead the GOP to the 168 members of the RNC executive committee.

What’s more, a second North Carolinian, Lara Trump, has announced her candidacy for RNC co-chair. The Wilmington native and NC State graduate is, of course, Trump’s daughter-in-law, and so his support is presumed.

“.@WhatleyNCGOP will do an incredible job! It will be my honor to work along side him for the future of this country — I’m excited to officially announce my candidacy for co-chair of the RNC.    I promise you that I will be laser-focused on election integrity, voter turn out, and ensuring every dollar spent goes towards winning!” tweeted Lara Trump on X.

The duo from North Carolina, a critical battleground state in recent presidential election cycles, have worked together before and appear to be a tag-team ticket to revamp leadership at the GOP.

Support for McDaniel, who has served as chair of the RNC since 2017, following Trump’s election in 2016, had been eroding for some time. Her tenure as chair covered one presidential (2020) and two mid-term election cycles (2018, 2022). In 2018 elections national Republicans faced the mid-term backwash effect after two years of GOP control, losing Congress that year, and then infamously coming up short of winning the White House in 2020.

It maybe 2022, however, that detractors see as the worst mark on McDaniel’s leadership record. After taking office, President Joe Biden’s honeymoon period was extremely short-lived. Pandemic policies, high profile policy failures, and painful inflation helped sink his and Democrats’ approval ratings across the country. “Let’s go, Brandon!” became a popular euphemism for Americans’ discontent with the president, and pundits confidently spotted a ‘Red Wave’ of Republican victories on the horizon approaching November. Republicans were poised to ride it, but the wave proved illusory (for most).

2022 election results disappointed the GOP in big ways across the country, with Republicans barely retaking the US House majority. The lackluster performance on the right reinvigorated Democrats’ prospects as they had avoided what promised to be an epic electoral beating.

Except in few places, like North Carolina, the wave seemed to peak for Republicans after all.

The GOP at large fell flat in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, but Republicans in North Carolina were surfing to victory. The NCGOP reclaimed a legislative super-majority in the General Assembly, successfully elected a US Senator, and took firm control of the State’s Supreme Court. The performance didn’t go unnoticed at the national level. Already having been regarded as a well-run organization by RNC leaders – Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020 – victories statewide in 2022 cemented the NCGOP as a model state party worthy of emulation. Its leadership was prized, as well.

In February 2023 Whatley was tapped as RNC General Counsel, focusing on election integrity matters. Sporting a swing state designation, the road to the White House in 2024 would necessarily run through the Old North State.

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