Claude E. Pope Jr., a Brunswick County businessman and former Wake County Party chairman, announced his candidacy for state GOP Party chairman on Wednesday.
Pope, 52, hopes to succeed former Congressman Robin Hayes, when the state Republican convention meets in Charlotte June 7-9. Hayes announced earlier this week that he would not seek a second full term.
“I want to provide strong support for county parties,” Pope said in a statement. “Coming from that background, I know there are ways the county organizations can make a huge difference in how their local governments are run.''
He also said he intends to work closely with Gov. Pat McCrory, the legislature and other Republican office holders if elected.
Traditionally, governors have a large say in the selection in choosing the party chairman. McCrory has not voiced his preference, although Pope has close ties to McCrory and to key McCrory advisors such as Jack Hawke and budget director Art Pope.
Claude Pope is a distant cousin of Art Pope. He is also the son of Claude Pope Sr. who served as Commerce Secretary under Republican Gov. Jim Martin. A stretch of U.S. 1 in Wake County is named for Claude Pope Sr.
The younger Pope is a native of Harnett County who spent much of adult life in Raleigh. In 2007 he sold his supply company and in 2011 he and his wife, Melissa acquired Maritime Market on Bald Head Island.
He chaired the Wake County Republican Party in 2009-2010 when Republicans won control of the Wake County school board and the Wake County board of commissioners.