As expected, the North Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee selected current Executive Director Jason Simmons as the new chair at an official meeting in Selma on Tuesday. Jim Womack, chair of the Lee County GOP, had also been in the running for the leadership role.

Simmons had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump backing him up.

“I’m honored to be chosen by my fellow Republicans to lead our party into the most important election in our lifetime,” said Simmons in a press release. “There is much work to be done to win North Carolina for President Trump, put Lt. Governor Robinson in the Governor’s Mansion, maintain our supermajorities in the General Assembly, and win four statewide judicial races. I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

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 Jason Simmons to lead the NCGOP.

Whatley formally resigned as NCGOP Chairman earlier in the evening. 

“I’m excited for Jason to take over as Chairman, and I look forward to working closely with him to ensure we win North Carolina for President Trump and elect Republicans up and down the ballot,” said RNC Chairman Whatley in a statement. 

Trump doubled 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.”

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.

On that note, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were in Raleigh on Tuesday with Gov. Roy Cooper, a fellow Democrat, to rally supporters over healthcare costs and for a private fundraiser.

Biden, who is trailing to Trump in recent polls, repeatedly used the word “MAGA” in reference to Trump and other Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“Even during the pandemic, Trump and his MAGA friends in Congress wanted to get rid of the ACA and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance. It’s sick,” said Biden..

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 was called upon to elect a replacement to fulfill the rest of his two year term.

Simmons will be chairman until the next scheduled election in June 2025.