North Carolina State Chair William Rhyne is a member of the Class of 2018. He is currently undecided on his major but is leaning towards politics and accounting/business. 

A purple state that has leaned further and further to the right since Barack Obama carried it in 2008, North Carolina will certainly be one of the more fun states to watch in the 2016 election cycle. In reality, the Presidential race may take a back seat in NC, where Richard Burr’s Senate reelection campaign could get interesting should old Blue Dog Heath Shuler or current federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx jump in the race, and where it is a foregone conclusion that Republican Governor Pat McCrory will face a tough path to reelection. Still, it is certain that the North Carolina Presidential race will not be an afterthought, making it important to watch the Republican nomination process here.

To date, a couple of interesting things have happened that will heavily impact the primary race in NC. Firstly, North Carolina has taken a step to influence the national nomination race more heavily, moving its primary up to March 15th. With their new early primary date, the choice of North Carolinian primary voters could have more ramifications on the remaining primary and caucus races than ever before. Already, candidates, notably Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), are making sure to campaign heavily in the South, a region whose primaries were historically later in the process (save early state SC).

But the race in NC is far from decided, and the complicated Republican Party in North Carolina makes it even harder to tell how NC will vote come March. Since the Republican takeover in 2010 and Pat McCrory’s election in 2012, the NC Republican Party has struggled internally over the direction of the state. The drama continued this summer, when the NC Republican leadership’s heavily endorsed choice for the next State Chairman, establishment candidate and fellow Gastonian Craig Collins, was defeated when the party instead elected Hasan Harnett, a prominent grassroots activist, as the first black chairman of the state party. Along with new Vice Chair Michelle Nix, Harnett rode the Tea Party and libertarian side of the Republican Party into power, setting up a potential clash between the establishment voters and Tea Party/libertarian voters in 2016. When combined with Governor Pat McCrory’s continued frustrations with his very conservative state legislature, North Carolina seems to be shaping up to be a site of very bitter Republican infighting in 2016, and the victor could very well set a national pattern for which kind of candidate the Republicans nominate in 2016.