Politics & Government

Mecklenburg GOP chair resigns after criticism

Curtis Watkins
Curtis Watkins

Two days after a state senator asked party officials to investigate him, Mecklenburg County Republican Party Chairman Curtis Watkins abruptly resigned Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Rucho had asked officials to investigate allegations that Watkins tried to recruit a challenger to state Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County. Rucho said any such recruiting “undermines the confidence” candidates must have in party organizations.

Watkins, an energy consultant, acknowledged talking to people about the race but denied actively recruiting anyone. He could not be reached for comment.

There was no way he could have done his job as party chair and the job with the energy company.

N.C. Sen. Bob Rucho

“When I stepped up to volunteer for the MeckGOP, I did it out of my passion for this great state, city, and county of ours,” he emailed party officials Wednesday. “I believe we should all find ways to serve and do our best to give back whenever possible.”

Rucho called Watkins’ resignation “appropriate under the circumstances.”

“There was no way he could have done his job as party chair and the job with the energy company,” Rucho said.

Hager is arguably the most prominent opponent of the state’s renewable energy mandate. Watkins is founder of SparkTank Advisors, an energy consulting company. He said he has no clients in North Carolina.

Watkins has said he’s considering running for the Senate seat that Rucho will leave. GOP Rep. Dan Bishop already has filed for it.

GOP vice chair Lynette Rinker said officials have 30 days to pick a replacement.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill