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North Carolina GOP elects Trump-backed executive as next president

North Carolina Republican activists have chosen the person who runs the day-to-day operations of the state party to become its next chairman, succeeding Michael Whatley after he was elevated to head the Republican National Committee earlier this month .

State GOP executive committee members voting Tuesday night in Johnston County elected party executive director Jason Simmons as state chairman over Lee County party chairman Jim Womack by a margin of more by 2 to 1, a party spokesperson said.

Simmons had received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump for the position, who also made Whatley his hand-picked choice to succeed longtime RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Whatley resigned as state chairman Tuesday.

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Simmons has close political ties to Trump, having worked as state director on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in North Carolina and overseeing Trump’s campaign operations in some Southeastern states in 2020.

The seal of the North Carolina Republican Party is seen on a podium as former Vice President Mike Pence speaks in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 10, 2023. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“I am honored to have been chosen by my fellow Republicans to lead our party into the most important election of our lifetimes,” Simmons said in a press release. He highlighted efforts to help Trump win North Carolina’s electoral votes again, get Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson elected governor, maintain a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly and win races before the court of appeal.

“I’m ready to go,” Simmons added.

State Republican Party spokesman Matt Mercer said Simmons defeated Womack by a vote of 289 to 130. The victory means Simmons can serve as chairman until the next scheduled presidential election in June 2025.

In his social media endorsement, Trump wrote that Simmons “has been key to our many Republican victories in the Tar Heel State. Jason will be fantastic for the MAGA movement.”

Whatley is leading a new RNC leadership team that includes Trump’s daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump as committee co-chair.

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While North Carolina went to Trump in 2016 and 2020, he won the state’s popular vote in 2020 by just 1.3 percentage points. Democrats have had a strong campaign for governor, winning seven of the last eight general elections for the position.

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