Former President Donald Trump made it official Monday by endorsing NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley to lead the Republican National Committee. 

In addition, Trump also recommended his daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump, to be co-chair and Chris LaCivita, one of his senior advisers, to be chief operating officer. 

In a statement, he said his endorsement of Whatley pointed to his “commitment to election integrity.”

Whatley’s name began circulating last week as a potential replacement for Ronna McDaniel, current chair of the Republican National Committee, who stated that she intended to resign her post after the South Carolina primary on February 24.

Reports after Trump’s statement align with an announcement made by the RNC saying McDaniel would not be making any type of announcement until after South Carolina’s primary election.

McDaniel has led the party since 2017 and was re-elected to a fourth term in January. Earlier this year, she spoke with Carolina Journal about the RNC’s campaign to get more Republicans to take advantage of early voting.

Whatley was first elected NCGOP chair in 2019 and re-elected in 2021 and 2023. He also currently serves as the general counsel for the Republican National Committee.

The North Carolina Republican Party Central Committee, the key governing committee of the state party, was mostly mum when CJ asked if they discussed a possible departure of Whatley for RNC leadership when they met on Saturday in a regularly scheduled meeting.

The Central Committee consists of congressional district chairs, leaders of various Republican clubs, and senior party officers who provide oversight and leadership of the party. At Saturday’s meeting members discussed the upcoming March primary, county and district conventions, the party’s efforts to elect GOP judges, and on-going fundraising efforts.

The big elephant in the room, however, was not discussed. Carolina Journal spoke to numerous members of the committee; all confirmed that the possible exit of State Chairman Michael Whatley was not mentioned at the meeting.

“It simply was not discussed,” one committee member told CJ. “Chairman Whatley did not address it, and the committee did not ask. He will tell us what we need to know when the time is right.”

“The elephant in the room, remained in the room, undiscussed,” said another committee member.

The members were granted anonymity to be able to freely discuss party business.

One committee member, however, did tell CJ, “I personally think it is a proud moment for the party. If Trump wants Whatley, we must have been doing something right here. I personally am not worried. Whatley has put the infrastructure in place for a successful transition.”

Importantly, the endorsements of Whatley do not officially seal the deal on their own: Those nominated to chair the RNC must face a vote by committee members before stepping into the top Republican Party position.