The 2023 North Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention in Greensboro drew a significant turnout, with over 1880 delegates in attendance from across the state. The NCGOP Convention serves as a gathering for Republican delegates, providing them with a platform to discuss important matters such as the Plan of Organization, Party Platform, and various other aspects of party business. Notably, odd-year conventions, including the 2023 event, also incorporate party leadership elections for chair and vice-chair. These elections contribute to shaping the future direction and vision of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Michael Whatley, the GOP chairman who was reelected during the Saturday business session told Carolina Journal that the 2023 Convention was the largest that the party has ever had. According to the chairman, a significant number of delegates attended the convention for the first time. “There was such a huge amount of delegates that were first time delegates to the convention,” said Whatley. “There’s just so much new participation and new enthusiasm that’s coming in from all across the state”.
The NC GOP Convention marked a significant milestone in the 2024 GOP Presidential Primary, bringing together the three leading contenders for the nomination for the first time.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis captivated an enthusiastic crowd on Friday night with a compelling address. Governor DeSantis used this opportunity to outline his vision for the future and to highlight his accomplishments.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who recently announced his candidacy, delivered the keynote lunch address on Saturday. Pence’s speech served as a rallying call, focusing on the constitution, the rule of law and faith.
The convention’s grand finale came with the highly anticipated appearance of former President Donald J. Trump, who commanded the stage on Saturday night. Trump spoke to a sold-out dinner crowd, laying out his plans for 2024 with a focus on a recent federal indictment against him.
Chairman Whatley asserts that the NC GOP is united as they approach the 2024 elections.
“I think that the Republican Party is unified, he said. “There’s a reason that President Trump, Vice President Pence and Ron DeSantis came to the convention.”
Whatley also emphasized the importance of North Carolina in the 2024 election.
“Strategically and politically North Carolina really really matters,” he said. “It matters in both the general and in the primary, we’re a Super Tuesday battleground state.”
The 2024 elections are crucial not only for presidential candidates but also for the three major GOP governor candidates who addressed the delegation Saturday. The frontrunner, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, and former congressman Mark Walker, delivered their speeches to the delegation.
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC, was censured by two-thirds of the delegates attending the convention. The censure came after a resolution was presented by the NC Resolutions Committee during the Saturday morning business session. The resolution aimed to ensure that elected officials at the national, state, and local levels adhere to the values expressed in the NC GOP’s Party Platform when making public comments, releasing press briefings, campaigning, or dealing with legislation.
This censure is not an isolated incident, as multiple county GOPs across the state have censured Senator Tillis in recent months. These censures were primarily related to Senator Tillis’s positions on legislation concerning immigration, gun control, and same sex marriage. “The body was very disappointed with his [Tillis’s] particular vote and they signaled that with a censure” explained Whatley.
A new face
One of the highlights for many delegates was hearing from Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg. Cotham made national news in early April when she formally announced she would be switching her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
“The party has become unrecognizable to me and to so many others in this state and country.” said Cotham of the Democrat Party.
This convention marked her first major appearance as a member of the GOP in the state, as highlighted by Whatley, who remarked, “It was really neat to see the full body accepting her, the way they did.”