North Carolina Republican activists have chosen the person running the state’s party day-today operations to become its next chairman, succeeding Michael Whatley after he was elevated to lead the Republican National Committee earlier this month.

Members of the state GOP’s Executive Committee voting Tuesday night in Johnston County elected party Executive Director Jason Simmons as state chairman over Lee County party Chairman Jim Womack by a more than 2-to-1 margin, a party spokesperson said.

Simmons had received an endorsement for the job from former President Donald Trump, who also had made Whatley his handpicked choice to succeed longtime RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Whatley resigned from his state chairman’s position Tuesday.


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

“I’m honored to be chosen by my fellow Republicans to lead our party into the most important election in our lifetime,” Simmons said in a news release. He noted efforts to help Trump win again North Carolina’s electoral votes, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson get elected governor, retain veto-proof majorities at the General Assembly and win appellate court races.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Simmons added.

State GOP spokesperson Matt Mercer said Simmons defeated Womack by a vote of 289-130. The victory means Simmons can serve as chair through the next scheduled election for chairman in June 2025.

In his endorsement on social media, 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 heads a new RNC leadership team that includes Trump daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump as the committee co-chair.

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