By Michael Whatley
The national health emergency caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, will force the North Carolina Republican Party to make significant changes to the way we operate as a party.
The federal government, the state of North Carolina and local governments instituted guidelines this week calling for the postponement of gatherings of 10 or more people until further notice. This will cause the postponement or cancellation of hundreds of county executive meetings, auxiliary club meetings and other events across the state. These federal, state and local regulations will also have a tremendous impact on our county conventions and district conventions.
Over the course of this week, I have been in constant communications with the NCGOP Central Committee, county and district party chairs, the Republican National Committee, RNC Convention Chair Toni Anne Dashiell and her staff, and our Republican candidates about the proper response to the rapidly changing conditions regarding the spread of COVID-19. In order to ensure that we will be able to elect and seat delegates and alternates to the RNC Convention, as well as elect presidential electors and alternates for the Electoral College, the NCGOP will be taking the following steps with regard to our conventions:
• All of our remaining county conventions will be conducted virtually via teleconferences. We have been in contact with all of our county chairs and walked them through the process for conducting their conventions and electing delegates to the district conventions and the state convention.
• All of our district conventions will be conducted virtually utilizing a combination of teleconference and online platforms. We are working with our district chairs, the NCGOP Central Committee and the RNC to develop model rules to govern these conventions. All delegates to these conventions who wish to be considered as an RNC delegate, RNC alternate, presidential elector or alternate presidential elector will need to fill out applications which are available on the NCGOP.org website and submit them to the district parties.
• At this time, we plan on holding our state convention May 14 to 17 in Greenville as currently scheduled. We are closely monitoring conditions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as changes to federal, state and local regulations, in order to determine whether we will need to make any changes to either the schedule or venue. We will keep everyone posted as we move forward.
• At this time, the RNC is firmly committed to moving forward with the RNC Convention which is scheduled to be held Aug. 24 to 27 in Charlotte. However, the RNC is closely monitoring conditions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and is working closely with federal, state and local governments in order to determine whether they will need to make any changes to the schedule. As members of the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements, Dr. Ada Fisher, Rep. Mark Brody and myself are working closely with the RNC Convention staff and will keep everyone informed if there are any changes.
As the NCGOP implements these changes, I am keenly aware that there will be challenges. I would ask all North Carolina Republicans to be patient with this new process and understand that we have been forced to make these changes in a very short period of time. You should not hesitate to contact your county chair or district chair if you have any questions or concerns about the process we are undertaking with regard to our conventions, or feel free to contact me or my staff at 919-828-6423.
The 2020 election cycle is an incredibly important cycle for all of us here in North Carolina. We must deliver our 15 electoral votes to re-elect President Trump, re-elect Senator Thom Tillis and our congressional delegation, elect Dan Forest as governor, expand our majorities in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate, and win back crucial seats on the N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. We also have to follow recommended health practices and keep our communities safe. I have no doubt we will be able to do both. As I have worked with our central committee, county chairs and countless Republican activists and leaders on implementing these important changes to our conventions, I have never been prouder to be the chairman of your Republican Party.
Michael Whatley serves as chairman of the North Carolina GOP.
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