RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On Wednesday, the North Carolina Republican Party said it would remain neutral during the presidential primary process after former President Donald Trump announced his third bid for the White House.
“The NCGOP has a standing rule of neutrality during a primary, and with former President Trump’s announcement last night the 2024 primary season has begun in earnest,” wrote state Republican Party spokesman Jeff Moore in an email. “We welcome all the Republican leaders willing to stand and offer themselves up to fight to save the American idea from destruction by Woke and incompetent Democrats. We look forward to the opportunity to replace the resounding failure of Joe Biden with a better Republican choice for the People of North Carolina and the nation in 2024.”
Republicans are poised to hold a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which disappointed many in the party who thought they would perform better in last week’s midterm elections.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC 8th) was chosen to be chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday, which places him fourth in line to the speakership and gives him the key responsibility of getting more Republicans elected to the House in 2024.
“I’ve said I support the president if he plans to run again,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I really loved his policies, thought it was one of the most successful presidencies in America in terms of energy policy, the economy, tax policy, regulatory policy.”
It remains unclear who else will get into the race, but Hudson said he would ultimately back the party’s nominee.
“You know, I support the president. But, I’m in a position in leadership where I’m running the congressional campaign committee for the Republicans. My goal is to grow this majority. And, if we end up nominating someone else on our side, I’ll support them just as strong,” said Hudson. “Ric Flair said if you want to be the man, you gotta beat the man. So, I’m supporting the man. And, if someone beats him in the primary I’ll support them.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC 11th) attended Trump’s announcement in Florida Tuesday night.
Cawthorn, who had Trump’s backing, lost his primary in May to Chuck Edwards amid a series of scandals to Chuck Edwards. Edwards was elected to the 11th district, replacing Cawthorn.
“I will follow this man to the day I die, barring some terrible information,” said Cawthorn in a video he posted on Instagram Tuesday night. “I want a president who people are terrified of, who’s gonna push people out of the way when he’s walking up because he’s the United States of freakin’ America and he represents every single one of us.”
CBS 17 reached out to all the other Republican members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation about Trump’s announcement. None of them responded.
In a poll Emerson College conducted a few days before the election, voters weighed in on who they would support in a hypothetical matchup between Trump and President Joe Biden in 2024. Trump led 51-40.
David McLennan, an expert on state politics, noted it’s the earliest a major-party candidate has declared.
“Even if he were to get indicted on a number of charges coming up, I don’t think that will dissuade Republicans if he is their nominee,” said McLennnan. “We haven’t even put 2022 to bed yet and we’re being forced into talking about 2024.”
He added that the results of this year’s election are impacting perceptions of Trump.
“The 2022 midterm results are giving people pause. We’re seeing a number of media folks and others come out against Donald Trump. But, I think two years is a long time in politics. So, Republican fortunes could turn around,” said McLennan. “I think they’re muted in their response even though privately they may be very critical of Donald Trump, saying it’s time to move on. But, publicly they’re in a very different spot because of Trump’s 30-percent control of the Republican base.”
During and soon after the announcement, Democrats sent out emails to supporters trying to raise money for 2024.
One from Gov. Roy Cooper called Trump “an extremist, anti-democratic authoritarian” and added that “he has no place in any high office.”
Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) wrote in another fundraising email, “Donald Trump spent his time in the White House undermining democracy and spreading hate. He serves as an example for other election deniers who ran in 2022, many of whom were defeated last week.”