Former President Donald Trump has privately indicated he will boost the chances of a key ally on the Republican National Committee to take the reigns from Ronna McDaniel after she steps down as chair later this month.
The selection of Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina state GOP, ensures President Trump will be advocating for an ally who has vigorously defended his assertions that the 2020 election was stolen by President Joe Biden. Allies told media outlets Tuesday that Trump finds Whatley personally appealing because he is a “stop the steal guy” who helped deliver his state to the former president in 2020.
McDaniel, who has led the party since 2017, has faced months of criticism over poor performances by the RNC both in terms of fundraising and a robust election integrity effort. She announced Tuesday evening that she would be resigning from her post on February 25th, the day after the South Carolina Republican primary. The announcement came after she met one-on-one with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and was alluded to in a subsequent post on Truth Social in which Trump hinted that changes to RNC leadership were imminent.
He thanked McDaniel, “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.”
Since 2019, Whatley has guided the NCGOP to supermajorities in the state legislature, earning reelections in 2021 and 2023 by comfortable margins. North Carolina colleagues were quick to praise his selection by Trump.
“If the news is true, I honor the service of Ronna McDaniel and thank her for her strong efforts; I fully endorse Michael Whatley as the next RNC chairman,” said NC Republican Party vice chair and a close ally of Whatley, Susan Mills, in an exclusive interview with Carolina Journal.
“As we’ve seen in North Carolina Chairman Whatley can bring Trump to victory and will do so in 2024,” Mills added. “I stood side by side with Whatley as we won North Carolina for Trump in 2020, elected a Republican Supreme Court, regained legislative supermajorities, and elected Ted Budd to the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing our legacy of success.”
For three years in a row, the RNC has spent more money than it’s brought in, an embarrassing defeat for McDaniel after she was narrowly reelected on a promise to bring high-level donors turned off by a Trump 2024 campaign back into the fold. The funds never materialized, and the former president’s grasp of small-dollar donors has been so strong that he has out-raised President Biden and starved the RNC of falling back on them. Recent filings showed that the RNC had just over $8 million in cash on hand against $1.8 million in debts, a fraction of the Democratic Party’s war chest.
Still, Whatley faces the considerable challenge of winning over swaths of McDaniel allies on the 186-member body. She won a majority of the committee’s support during a secret 2023 vote against Harmeet Dhillon, who fashioned herself as more in line with President Trump’s MAGA base. The North Carolina Republican will also need to make inroads with Turning Point USA whose 30-year-old founder Charlie Kirk has made it a priority to use considerable funds to lobby for the firing of McDaniel.
“We need a strong RNC to win. President Trump deserves this and I will do everything in my power to help,” Kirk wrote on X following news about McDaniel’s looming retirement.
Now that Ronna is stepping down later this month, I want to make a few points clear.
I have said repeatedly my opposition to Ronna as Chair was nothing personal. She has always been kind to me personally and I'm sure there is a role for her to play in the future. I genuinely…
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 7, 2024