State Republicans selected a new chairman during their convention Saturday to replace the former chairman who is now under indictment.

Michael Whatley is a Gaston County Republican with ties to the energy industry. He also has Washington experience. He worked in President George W. Bush's Energy Department and was former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's chief of staff.

He takes over for former Congressman Robin Hayes. Federal authorities have charged Hayes with bribery, conspiracy and other charges connected to a plan to shower the state's top insurance regulator with campaign contributions to ensure special business treatment, according to a criminal indictment unsealed in April.

Whatley's goal is to build up the GOP's connections, fundraising and volunteers ahead of this fall's municipal elections across North Carolina and next year's elections for president and U.S. Senate.

It's a two-year term, so Whatley is expected to be chairman when Charlotte hosts the Republican National Convention next year.

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