RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes won’t seek re-election to the post after all, the former congressman announced Monday.
Hayes said the state GOP’s convention in June will be his last leading the party. Convention delegates will choose his successor.
The 73-year-old Hayes had initially decided to seek another two-year term, but in a news release from the party he said complications from recent hip surgery led him to change his mind.
Hayes also said it’s a “good time to pass the torch to our strong bullpen of Republican Party leaders.”
Hayes served as chairman from 2011 to 2013, then returned in 2016 after the ouster of Chairman Hasan Harnett.
After serving two terms in the General Assembly, Hayes was the 8th District congressman from 1999 through 2008. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1996, losing to Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt.
The GOP news release focused on political successes while Hayes was chairman, including presidential vote victories in North Carolina for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016.
Hayes was heavily involved in bringing the 2020 Republican Convention to Charlotte. He will keep his position on the convention host committee.
Hayes “has been one of the most successful NCGOP chairs ever,” U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said in the release. “The NCGOP has never been stronger thanks to Robin’s dedicated leadership over the last decade.”
A new election was ordered in the 9th Congressional District for late this year after evidence emerged that a political operative in rural Bladen County working for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign last year was illegally collecting ballots.
The next party chairman will work to guide the party through a 2020 election in which races for president, governor and U.S. Senate will be on state ballots. All 170 seats in the General Assembly also will be up for re-election, with control of the 2021 redistricting at stake.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won in 2016. Democrats made legislative seat gains in 2018 that ended the GOP’s veto-proof control, but Republicans still hold House and Senate majorities.