Trump endorses NC’s Whatley for RNC chair, Lara Trump for co-chair

Former President Trump on Monday backed Michael Whatley, the head of the North Carolina GOP, to serve as the next chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and threw his support behind his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to serve as co-chair.

“The RNC MUST be a good partner in the Presidential election. It must do the work we expect from the national Party and do it flawlessly,” Trump said in a statement. “That means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country, getting out the vote everywhere — even in parts of the country where it won’t be easy — and working with my campaign, as the Republican presumptive nominee for President, to win this election and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The former president’s preferred candidates, if elected by RNC members, would cement a full takeover of the committee by Trump.

Trump said he was endorsing Whatley as the next RNC chair to replace Ronna McDaniel, who is expected to step down from the job after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24.

Trump praised Whatley for being “committed to election integrity.” Whatley has been a vocal supporter of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

In addition to Whatley, the former president said he was supporting Lara Trump as RNC co-chair. He praised her as “an extremely talented communicator and is dedicated to all that MAGA stands for.”

Lara Trump is married to Trump’s son, Eric, and has been involved with the RNC and party donors dating back to the former president’s time in the White House.

Trump also said he had asked his senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita to effectively serve as the RNC’s chief operating officer to oversee day-to-day operations as the general election cycle kicks into gear.

“This group of three is highly talented, battle-tested, and smart. They have my complete and total endorsement to lead the Republican National Committee,” Trump said. “Every penny will be used properly. New Day.”

McDaniel has been RNC chair since Trump arrived in the White House in 2017. She has been reelected to the position every two years since, including in 2023, despite facing multiple challengers frustrated with the party’s underwhelming midterm performances and its finances. 

Trump declined to explicitly back McDaniel or a challenger during the 2023 leadership race, and there have been simmering tensions between the two during the 2024 primary as Trump has pushed for the party to rally to his side.

The former president’s endorsement is not a guarantee that his picks will win the RNC leadership elections. He backed Whatley as co-chair in 2023, but he did not win the job.

This time around there would likely be more deference to Trump, however, as he is on track to become the party’s nominee in the November presidential election. He romped to victory in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and he is on track to do the same in South Carolina, the home state of his lone remaining challenger, Nikki Haley.

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