Chairman Michael Whatley is the right guy at the right time to lead the Republican National Committee. I have spent a decade working in Republican politics, mainly in opposition research, and had the privilege of serving as the NCGOP communications director in 2020, where I directly witnessed why Whatley would make a great RNC chairman.

To win in 2024, the Republican National Committee needs to rebuild trust with the base. That is precisely what Whatley did in North Carolina.

Whatley secured his narrow victory in 2019 to lead the NCGOP. At the time, he faced substantial scrutiny from the grassroots base. Over time, Whatley gained the trust of the grassroots base needed to win in 2024.

Between stops on the campaign trail, Whatley would utilize the drive time — what he referred to as “windshield” time — to call stakeholders across the state to build deeper connections. He visited local Republican groups across North Carolina and built the relationships necessary for true statewide campaigns. Whenever the NCGOP needed someone anywhere in the state, Whatley already had a working relationship with people on the ground because he put in the effort to build those relationships.

The next leader needs to be able to work across a diverse and sometimes divided Republican Party. Whatley is such a leader.

I witnessed Whatley masterfully manage this daily in 2020. Arguably, the most crucial election in North Carolina during the 2020 campaign cycle was the United States Senate race, with Thom Tillis as the Republican nominee and Cal “Historically Sexy” Cunningham as the Democrat opponent. It should not come as a surprise that the activists who voted to censure Tillis in 2023 were not huge fans of Tillis in 2020. But every day, Whatley worked to keep North Carolina Republicans united and focused on defeating the Democrats.

Another crystal-clear example of Whatley’s leadership in uniting Republicans is the success of the Judicial Victory Fund. In his chairman’s race, Whatley campaigned hard on creating a Judicial Victory Fund to support Republicans running statewide for the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.    

Democrats controlled the court six to one. Through Whatley’s leadership, Republicans swept every statewide judicial race in 2020 including the win of Chief Justice Paul Newby. Republicans completed their judicial race dominance under Whatley’s chairmanship by sweeping every race and securing a majority. In 2024, thanks in part of Whatley’s efforts, Republicans are on track to win another Supreme Court seat — cementing a six to one Republican majority.

Finally, the next RNC chair must have the right instincts during this unprecedented election.

Republicans have never faced a presidential election where the opposition has filed multiple felony charges against our likely nominee. What will happen in the legal proceedings against the eventual nominee is far from clear. But it is clear we need a leader with the right instincts.

I saw Whatley display the right instincts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The playbook in April 2020 looked entirely different than it did in February 2020. As the political landscape shifted throughout the pandemic, Whatley’s instincts played a crucial role in shaping the party’s message. Getting it right during the COVID pandemic was challenging, but Whatley provided exemplary leadership at the right time by being a voice of reason while our Democrat governor was making every effort to keep our state in a perpetual lockdown.

Another shining example of Whatley’s leadership was in the NC Supreme Court recount of 2020. On election night, Republican Paul Newby was up by 405 votes over Democrat Cheri Beasley. The Democrats tried every trick to convince the Democrat-controlled State Board of Elections to ignore the voters’ will in favor of a partisan trick.

Whately had already laid the groundwork for this possibility. In the months before the election, Whatley led efforts to recruit lawyers to protect the ballot box in 2020. Republicans were ready for a statewide recount requiring lawyers in all 100 counties if needed. It turned out this preparation was needed when it came to the Newby/Beasley race. Without his strong leadership, at least from my perspective in the trenches working this issue, Beasley would be the chief justice, not Newby.

Every day I worked with Whatley behind closed doors. I saw that Whatley was up to the task of fundraising, leading the team, and driving a compelling message.

From what I have witnessed in the thick of the action in 2020, Whatley is just the right guy to lead Republicans to victory in 2024.