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Virginia GOP chairman John Whitbeck announces resignation

Virginia: Trump loyalist takes on incumbent

John Whitbeck, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, is resigning after more than three years in his post. His resignation is effective July 21. 

Neither Whitbeck's statement, nor the Virginia GOP, offered an explanation for the resignation. His departure comes just weeks after Corey Stewart, the controversial Republican who has pushed the Confederate flag, won the GOP primary.

"I am proud we have operated the party in a fiscally responsible and fiscally healthy manner consistently for years now," Whitbeck said in a statement provided by the Virginia GOP. "We have been passionate about bringing our message to new communities and growing the party with new voters."  

"I have had the opportunity to travel all around our beautiful commonwealth, see places I never would have traveled, met people I never would have known, and learn things about myself and my party I never would have learned," Whitbeck continued. 

He added, "I started this job with a message of party unity being the key to our success. I will end the job the same way. No matter what happens cycle after cycle, Republicans must stand together. On behalf of the Whitbeck family, and from the bottom of my heart I sincerely thank you for the great honor of having served as your chairman."

Whitbeck's departure comes at a time of uncertainty for the party. 

Virginia Elections House Races
In this Saturday April 30, 2016, file photo, Chairman of the Virginia Republican Party John Whitbeck, speaks during the Virginia State Republican Convention in Harrisonburg, Va. Steve Helber / AP

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, Stewart trails incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine by 18 points ahead of the midterm election. 

Republicans, who had controlled two-thirds of the state's lower chamber until November, nearly lost control of it in a wave of Democratic wins. In Congress, two GOP members are not running for re-election, including Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. 

Virginia, one more of a red state, has become increasingly purple -- if not, arguably, blue -- at the statewide level. Its current governor, Ralph Northam, is a Democrat. So was the previous governor, the Clinton-allied Democrat Terry McAuliffe.