Raleigh News and Observer

Hello and welcome to your Under the Dome newsletter. Kyle Ingram here, with an assist from Danielle Battaglia.

NC Republican Party leader may be Trump’s pick to lead the RNC

North Carolina Republican Party Chair Michael Whatley is reportedly former President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Republican National Committee amid reports that current chair, Ronna McDaniel, may be planning to step down.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that McDaniel told Trump she will leave her post after the South Carolina primary election on Feb. 24. The report said Trump is likely to endorse Whatley, who he favors for his support of false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, to become chair.

Although he may have Trump’s support, the former president cannot appoint him as chair — party rules require an internal election to be held for the position.

Neither Trump nor the RNC have confirmed the reports.

“Nothing has changed,” RNC spokesperson Keith Schipper tweeted on Wednesday. “This will be decided after South Carolina.”

On Monday, Trump posted on Truth Social after meeting with McDaniel, writing she was “now Head of the RNC, and I’ll be making a decision the day after the South Carolina Primary as to my recommendations for RNC Growth.”

Top state Republican lawmakers did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

In a radio interview with WBT, former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said the reports weren’t surprising to him.

“Whatley is Trump’s guy and Whatley will do whatever Trump wants him to do,” he said. “Trump says ‘jump,’ he’ll say ‘how high?’”

Stephen Wiley, director of the N.C. House GOP Caucus, said he didn’t have a strong opinion on Whatley’s potential promotion, but that it could help the state party.

“I think it’s probably good for North Carolina Republicans if the chair of the RNC is from North Carolina and has got a vested interest in North Carolina doing well,” he said.

Michele Woodhouse, chair of the 11th Congressional District for the N.C. GOP, was not as confident in Whatley’s abilities.

“We need someone who can motivate, strike a chord, bring the party together in a way that unifies and does the most important thing that the RNC chair needs to do: and that is raise money,” Woodhouse said. “Right now, we have in Ronna McDaniel, an RNC chair that can’t raise money and can’t win — and I don’t know that Michael Whatley is the right replacement for her.”

The Democratic National Committee has $21 million in cash on hand, according to the most recent data from the FEC. That’s almost three times as much as the RNC has available.

Woodhouse also criticized Whatley’s most recent election to chair of the state party, which happened last summer. At the party convention, organizers used an app to conduct elections for party leadership.

The app allegedly did not track a user’s location — potentially allowing people not on the convention floor to vote in violation of the rules.

In July, the North Carolina Republican Party was sued by attendees of the convention who claimed there were irregularities in the party leadership elections. A judge later threw out the lawsuit.

“It was an absolute and utter embarrassment and disaster,” Woodhouse said.

Whatley didn’t return a phone message this week or answer additional calls.

That’s all for today. Check your inbox on Sunday for more #ncpol news.

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