ALBEMARLE — Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, addressed a packed crowd inside Jay’s Downtowner restaurant in Albemarle at Thursday night’s Stanly County Republican meeting, speaking on the current state of the party after November’s elections.
Whatley began his speech by discussing three contested races that resulted in the victories of three United States representatives: Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11), Dan Bishop (R-NC-9) and Richard Hudson (R-NC-8). He followed that up by talking about the significance of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) winning over his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham, and locking up a 50th GOP vote in the Senate.
“I can’t tell you, on a couple levels, how important him [Tillis] winning this seat is,” Whatley said to the crowd.
“It’s important for us here in North Carolina because of his service on the Armed Services Committee on Veterans’ Affairs as well as the Banking, Agriculture and Judiciary committees. Plus, him fighting the fight he’s going to have going forward on judges as well as what we just went through with Donald Trump getting 230-plus federal judges and three judges on the Supreme Court.”
According to Whatley, the success that Republicans had in November was due in part to the financial support and donations that were given to the NCGOP. The organization’s previous record for raising money was $2.5 million in a year — a record which was shattered by last year’s $4.7 million raised.
A portion of that money was used to ensure that a hired team of attorneys and observers were present in all 100 counties in the state to monitor the vote-counting process; Whatley speculated that if GOP organizations in states like Georgia and Arizona had copied the NCGOP’s model, their latest voting results in the presidential election might have been different.
Following his speech, the floor was opened to elected officials who wanted to address the crowd.
“I want to thank Stanly County for sending me back to the Senate,” state Sen. Carl Ford (R-Rowan) told the crowd. In November, Ford defeated Democrat Tarsha Ellis, taking over 70% of the 104,132 votes cast for the District 33 race.
“Everybody is right tonight — without President Trump, we wouldn’t have the votes that we had,” Ford said. “He’s the reason that we won, and it was an amazing turnout. People were fired up and people are still fired up, but for a different reason. I just hope we can get everyone to calm down. It’s been bad for the past few weeks, but people are already jumping out of the party; I don’t understand that. This is when I double down instead of quitting or walking away.”
State Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Dist. 67), who ran unopposed last year after garnering over 72% of the votes back in the 2018 election, addressed the crowd next.
“The Democrats were convinced that they were going to take over the House and Senate in North Carolina,” Sasser said. “They were coming around our offices looking at which office they were going to get. We not only held our own, we made progress getting the supermajority which is really, really important. We got everything but the governor, but we did get all those judges. This is not a simple system; it starts at the ground level like Michael was talking about.”
While the dates haven’t been set as of yet, the Stanly County Republicans are working on plans to hold their 2021 Lincoln Day Dinner in February and county convention in March. Some names have been brought up as a possible guest speaker for the events, including newly elected Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.