Under the Dome

NC Republican Party chairman Claude Pope to step down

N.C. Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope announced Monday that he won’t seek another term leading the state GOP.

In a statement posted on the party’s website, Pope said he’ll continue to serve until a new chairman is elected in June. He has led the party since 2013.

“It is with mixed emotions that I’ve decided to forgo seeking another term as your chairman,” Pope wrote. “I’m looking forward to re-engaging with my business interests, and becoming reacquainted with my family! I’m also looking forward to playing more golf, catching (and eating) more fish, finishing my novel, and conspiring with our friends.”

Pope is a former Wake County Republican Party chairman who owns a grocery business on Bald Head Island. He’s a cousin of former state budget director and GOP donor Art Pope.

The party’s executive director, Todd Poole, issued a statement praising Pope’s leadership.

“Under his leadership, the Republican Party has secured key victories, including electing Thom Tillis to the U.S. Senate, sending an additional member to the U.S. House of Representatives and maintaining our super majorities in both the N.C. House and Senate,” Poole said. “He will also be leaving the Republican Party in a strong financial position to have another successful election cycle in 2016.”

Within hours of the news, a Republican leader and attorney from Gastonia announced his candidacy for the position. Craig Collins currently serves as the party’s 10th Congressional District chairman. His announcement cites endorsements from a host of GOP leaders: Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

“As state chairman, I will raise a tremendous amount of money for the party and I’ll put together the best possible team to get in the trenches and build a powerhouse grassroots organization,” Collins said in the statement. “We must energize and organize our party like never before if we are to carry North Carolina for our Republican presidential nominee, re-elect Senator Burr and keep Gov. McCrory and Lt. Gov. Forest at the helm of our state in 2016.”