CONCORD – After weeks with the last elected chair of the North Carolina Republican Party being under federal indictment for bribery, and years of rising internal acrimony from poor performance, perceived slights, and power struggles, the delegates at the 2019 NCGOP Convention elected Michael Whatley to be their chair. Whatley, former chief of staff to Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and a partner in an energy consulting firm in DC, lives in Gastonia. He campaigned on innovating better county to state communications and building grassroots networks, touting his role in Donald Trump’s 2016 North Carolina campaign.
From the Gastonia Gazette:
North Carolina Republicans elected a Gastonia man to lead the state party through the 2020 election season, including the GOP’s national convention that will be held in Charlotte.
Michael Whatley will serve as chairman of the North Carolina GOP after winning more than 50 percent of the votes in a three-man race at the state convention held Saturday in Concord.
Whatley will be the first Gaston County resident to serve as state Republican Party chairman, according to Jason Williams, a former Gaston County commissioner.
“It’s a great honor to have Gaston County have such a leading voice in our party leadership and reflects the Republican Party’s commitment to rolling up our sleeves and making sure our slate of candidates is elected in 2020, including President Trump’s re-election and taking back the governorship,” Williams said. […]
According to a website put up for Whatley, he got started in the GOP volunteering for former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms in his 1984 campaign, was a member of the Florida recount team during the 2000 election that gave the presidency to George W. Bush and served as a senior official in the Department of Energy.
He also helped with President Donald Trump’s campaign in North Carolina in 2016.
Whatley’s experience with the Trump campaign should help Republicans as they work to help the president win the Tar Heel State in 2020, Williams said.”
Whatley has quite a job ahead of him, but the new leadership is certainly welcome considering the current state of NCGOP affairs. The proximity of his election to 2020 elections requires a sprint to a strong finish if North Carolina Republicans are going to repair the damage done to our representation, and reputation, over these last few years. That means more than reelecting Trump in 2020; ultimate success rests upon gaining ground in races up and down the ballot in the Old North State, especially judges, with a strong delivery of a winning message. It is also sustained by elevating the grassroots and local representation as a stakeholder, versus the top-down practices that have led to notable friction in recent years.
The latter goal will be served well be Miriam Chu, who was elected Vice Chair at the convention. We profiled Chu here, and look forward to her role as an ambassador for the grassroots of the party.
Hopefully Whatley can follow through on delivering that message, and success, for the Republican platform going forward.