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GREENSBORO — The state’s GOP leadership believes it has positioned North Carolina to be a focal point for Republican candidates seeking the 2016 presidential election.

The state Republican Party’s executive committee met at the GOP Headquarters in Greensboro Saturday and decided to divide its delegates for the Republican National Convention by the number of votes presidential candidates receive instead of using a winner-take-all system, often used in states that have primaries shortly before the convention.

When state lawmakers agreed to move the presidential primary to March 15, that gave the state’s Republican Party the ability to decide which method to use.

A.J. Dauod, the Sixth District Republican chairman, said Sunday the Republican National Committee also gave the state party 72 delegates, instead of 12, because of the move. That makes North Carolina the state with the sixth highest number of delegates at the convention.

“What’s important about that is we’ll get a lot of the presidential candidates visiting the state. And having the sixth highest (number of delegates), (candidates will) pump money into the state for advertisements, events and things of that nature,” Daoud said. “It’ll be a big boost to the state’s economy.”

Ernie Wittenborn, Guilford County’s GOP chairman, said the committee met for nearly five hours debating what method to use.

“The logic that swayed most of the people is because we anticipate North Carolina being such a key player in who our nomination will be, most of the candidates that are running for president will want to come to North Carolina to get their share of the delegates,” Wittenborn said. “If we used a winner-take-all method, some of the candidates wouldn’t come to North Carolina because they wouldn’t get delegates at all.”

Daoud said under the proportional representation, candidates with close votes in the primary also have fair representation from the state at the convention.

While the executive committee debated which method to use, the party’s central committee was meeting elsewhere in the building to select a new executive director for the state’s party.

The committee selected Dallas Woodhouse, the former state director for Americans for Prosperity and current president and founder of Carolina Rising. Woodhouse, a native of Raleigh, succeeds Todd Poole, who resigned from the position Aug. 31.

Woodhouse, still in contract negotiations with the party, was selected out of 22 candidates.

“I’m very excited about it, and it really is an honor,” Woodhouse said. “It is a real honor to be entrusted with an organization with so much history and opportunity, but one that is also open to bringing new ideas to the table.”

Daoud, who led the executive committee meeting, also sat through portions of the central committee meeting.

“I just think that, basically, when it came down to it, Dallas, if you know Dallas’ history, is a very loud, hard-hitting person,” Daoud said. “I would say he’s a street fighter.”

Daoud said that’ll be important for the 2016 election as the Republican party works to retain seats and obtain new ones.

Daoud said after the decisions made on Saturday the state party is sending a clear message that it “has its act together” going into the 2016 election.

He said he’s already seen candidates sending representatives to the state and opening offices.

“It goes to show the influence our state will have in the upcoming presidential elections and down the ballot,” Daoud said.

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Contact Danielle Battaglia at (336) 373-4476, and follow @dbattagliaNR on Twitter.

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