Padgett defeated two others vying for the spot at the party's convention at the Classic Center this weekend.
He rolled out a series of endorsers before making his speech to the thousands of party members and observers, including media personality and former U.S. House of Representatives candidate Martha Zoller as well as a man who was initially one of Padgett's challengers.
Seth Harp turned down the nomination and urged his supporters to back Padgett instead. Padgett won on the second ballot, defeating 28-year-old Alex Johnson after BJ Van Gundy lost in the first round.
He will replace six-term chairwoman Sue Everhart, who was prohibited from running for re-election. The chairman serves two-year terms.
Padgett, with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was instrumental in bringing the convention to Athens for the first time.He has been active in the party for 35 years and went into the convention as its secretary, though he said he never forgot the importance of campaigning at the local level.
"I never left the grassroots," he said.
In his speech at the convention, he said he would fight to take a conservative message to the "liberal media" and control messaging for the party.
"We will not twiddle our thumbs," he said. "We will take the war to the liberal Democrats."