The Republican Party of North Carolina will elect a new chair, by vote of their executive committee, next Tuesday, March 26. As the vote approaches, former President Donald Trump is doubling down on his endorsement for the next leader of the NCGOP as his campaign continues to emphasize the importance of North Carolina in the electoral landscape.

“North Carolina is a critical battleground state,” Danielle Alvarez, senior advisor to the Trump campaign told CJ in a phone call. “Chairman Michael Whatley had such a strong tenure in North Carolina that the president asked him to run the entire Republican National Committee, and now we need to make sure to have a winner in NC because it’s such a crucial state — Jason Simmons is that person.”

Jason Simmons is currently executive director at NCGOP.

The mid-term leadership shuffle was spurred after Trump personally recruited outgoing chairman Michael Whatley to replace Ronna McDaniel as leader of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Following Whatley’s election as RNC chair in early March, along with Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair, the former president endorsed current Jason Simmons to lead the NCGOP.

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The presumptive GOP nominee for president taking such a keen interest in leadership succession at a state party all but solidifies the race. Nevertheless, another candidate has emerged to challenge Trump’s endorsement via his own campaign for chair.

Jim Womack, chair of the Lee County GOP, announced his candidacy on social media this week. He has run for state chair before, running unsuccessfully for the leadership post in both 2017 and again in 2019. Womack was defeated in the latter race by Whatley, in what would be the first of three terms for the now-RNC chairman.

The Trump campaign views North Carolina as a must-win state for the former president to be successful in his 2024 bid for the White House. In recruiting Whatley to head up the RNC, it was important to Trump to not leave a vacuum in leadership at the NCGOP, campaign officials tell CJ. That led to Trump’s personal endorsement of Simmons, who has served as executive director during Whatley’s tenure, for continuity approaching the fall elections.

“We are looking forward to seeing Jason Simmons take the helm of the NCGOP to lead the effort for President Trump, who led to victories in 2016 and 2020,” Chris LaCivita, co-campaign manager the Trump campaign for president, told CJ in statement. “It’s unfortunate that Jim Womack doesn’t share the same goal. We are hopeful the NCGOP Executive Committee sees the importance of supporting President Trump’s proven winner as state Party Chair.”

New chair elections for the NCGOP are typically held during the state party’s convention in odd-numbered years (non-election years), and elected by a vote of state convention delegates. This year is an even-numbered election year, but, due to the early resignation of the outgoing chair, the NCGOP executive committee is called upon to elect a replacement to fulfill the rest of his two year term to 2025.

The committee will convene next Tuesday, March 26, to elect their new chair.