Mike Bird announced Monday evening that he is withdrawing from the GOP state party chair race. He and Rob Axson were the only two candidates vying to replace current Chair Carson Jorgensen, who is stepping down.

Axson will presumably become the new state party chair at the state convention on April 22.

The organizing convention will feature keynote speaker Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He is widely expected to announce a 2024 presidential campaign later this year.

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“Due to an unforeseen increase in demands with my work, it has quickly become clear that I cannot dedicate the time and attention that this position deserves,” Bird said on social media. “While I am stepping down from the race, I remain committed to serving the Utah Republican Party and helping in any way that I can.”

Bird confirmed with the Deseret News that he is withdrawing from the race.

Screen shot of Mike Bird for State Party Chair on Facebook

Axson told Deseret News he extends his gratitude to Bird for his years of service to the Utah Republican Party. Bird is serving as party treasurer, a position he has held since 2019. With Axson serving as vice chair of the party until 2021, the two worked in party leadership together for several years.

“Mike is a good friend and someone for whom I have the highest respect. I have seen his talents, dedication and heart in service for many years.” Axson said. “I look forward to continue to work closely with Mike in the future to ensure our state remains the right place for all who call Utah home.”

Axson previously said he is excited to leverage his experience on behalf of the Republican Party. He currently runs Sen. Mike Lee’s state office and has worked in Utah politics for over 20 years, including as a member of the Republican Party State Central Committee.

He said he wants to build “momentum” within the GOP by coordinating efforts across the state. “There’s a meaningful opportunity if each of us builds together so we’re not duplicating efforts and in the process create relevance for the party by building out structures to support our candidates,” he said.

Jordan Hess, who filed for reelection as GOP state vice chair, is also running unopposed. He told the Deseret News he is excited to work with Axson.

“I have known Rob Axson for over a decade and have nothing but respect for him, his conservative credentials, and his desire to take the Utah Republican Party to new heights,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of his plan for the party and I am confident we will work well together to grow the party and keep Utah red.”

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State delegates will still vote on who will serve as party secretary and treasurer.

Olivia Dawn, the current party secretary, filed to run for reelection. Challenging her for the position are Nicholas Compton and Stafford Palmieri.

McKay Newell, Patrick Russo and Thomas Young have each filed to run for the GOP state treasurer seat vacated by Bird.

Utah GOP chair candidate Robert Axson. | Robert Axson