After Trump allies rise, revolt brews in Michigan GOP

For Donald J. Trump’s Republican supporters in Michigan, it felt like a crowning moment: The state party picked two candidates endorsed ...


For Donald J. Trump’s Republican supporters in Michigan, it felt like a crowning moment: The state party picked two candidates endorsed by the former president, both outspoken preachers of 2020 election lies, as contenders for the job. the state’s top law enforcement official and its chief election administration officer.

But instead, that move at a convention last weekend — where Republicans formally endorsed Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state — broke Michigan’s Republican Party. After tense monthhe finally seems to crack as what remains of the old guard protests against the party leadership.

This week, Tony Daunt, a powerful figure in Michigan politics with close ties to the DeVos family’s network of influential donors, resigned from the GOP state committee in a searing letter, calling Mr. Trump a “deranged narcissist.” The main donors to the State Party have indicated that they will direct their money elsewhere. And one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest defenders in the state Legislature was forced out of the House Republican caucus.

The repudiation of the party’s denialist wing by fellow Michigan Republicans represents a rare public backlash by conservatives against Mr. Trump’s attempts to coerce candidates across the country into backing his claims of a rigged vote in 2020. That position has become a litmus test for GOP politicians up and down the ballot as Mr. Trump adds to his list of more than 150 endorsements this election cycle.

Still, some Republicans in Michigan and beyond worry that a singular, backward focus on the 2020 election could be a losing message for the party in November.

“Rather than walk away from this unruly loser,” Mr. Daunt wrote in his resignation letter, “far too many Republican ‘leaders’ have decided to encourage his delusional lies – and, even worse – appease him. cynically when they know they are lies, is the easiest way to keep them in power, may the consequences of the general election be cursed.

“Whether it is misguided true belief, cynical cowardice, or just plain old scam and greed,” Mr. Daunt continued in the letter, addressed to a fellow Republican, “c It’s a losing strategy and I can’t sit on the board of a party that’s too stupid to see that.

Mr. Daunt’s resignation shocked party insiders in Michigan, in part because of his close ties to Dick and Betsy DeVos, prominent conservative donors who often acted as kingmakers in Republican politics from state and have raised millions of dollars through their political arm, the Michigan Freedom. Funds. Ms. DeVos served in Mr. Trump’s cabinet as education secretary.

Jeff Timmer, former executive director of the Republican Party of Michigan and a critic of Mr Trump, said of Mr Daunt’s letter: “The fact that he takes a step like this indicates where their thinking is. Mr Timmer added: ‘It seems highly unlikely that he would do this and then tell them afterwards when they read it in the press.’

A Michigan Freedom Fund spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. But some people within the DeVos network have also expressed frustrations with the direction of the state party, despite still wanting Republicans to succeed in November, according to two people who spoke with donors connected to the network and who insisted on anonymity to discuss. private conversations.

In a Thursday morning interview, Mr. Trump disputed that a sustained focus on the 2020 election could hurt Republicans in November.

“I think it’s good for the general election because it made people very angry to go and vote,” he said. He declined to say whether he would provide financial support to Mr DePerno or Ms Karamo, although he called Mr DePerno a “bulldog” and called Ms Karamo “magnetic”.

Mr. Trump declined to comment on the DeVos Network, speaking only of Ms. DeVos, who resigned from his administration after the Capitol riot, “She was fine, but the one I really loved in that family was the father, who was basically the founder.” (Mrs. DeVos’ stepfather, Richard M. DeVos, died in 2018was also a major Republican donor.)

The State Party’s most recent campaign finance reports show that some major contributors have changed their donations.

“A lot of traditional donors have just left,” said John Truscott, a Michigan Republican strategist. “I don’t know how he survives long term.”

By the end of 2021, campaign finance reports show that the number of direct contributions over $25,000 to Republicans in Michigan had declined. The money the party received included $175,000 in November from Ron Weiser, the party’s megadonor chairman.

Mr. Weiser, who drew criticism last year when he joked about killing two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, gave the party at least $1.3 million for the round, according to reports.

In an email on Wednesday, Michigan Republican Party spokesman Gustavo Portela said he was financially strong and cited Mr Weiser’s generosity, saying he was committed to giving and raising “the money we think is necessary to earn”. in November.”

But the names of other prolific donors, like auto dealership magnate and philanthropist Jeffrey Cappo, no longer appear in late 2021 reports.

Mr Cappo said on Wednesday he had found other ways to give money to Republicans.

“Our political state,” Mr. Cappo said, “is more dysfunctional than it has ever been.”

He said of Mr Trump: “I think the guy really, really cared, but he cares more about himself than anybody else.”

Republican divisions had been grow for weeks ahead of the state party convention last weekend. And frustrations with Meshawn Maddock, a state party co-chair with close ties to Mr Trump, boiled over when she endorsed nominees ahead of the convention, including Mr DePerno and Ms Karamo.

Mr DePerno, a lawyer who has challenged County Antrim election results, has pledged to investigate ‘all fraud that has occurred in this election’, including investigations by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, all Democrats.

Ms Karamo rose to prominence after challenging the 2020 state results as a scrutineer, arguing she witnessed fraud. Her claims were later debunked, but she quickly gained fame in conservative circles.

When Mr. DePerno and Ms. Karamo nearly landed their nominations, it was not through a traditional party primary. Instead, Michigan appoints many statewide offices through a convention system, in which party activists serve as “precinct presidents” and vote on the nomination.

The campaigns for Ms. Karamo and Mr. DePerno did not respond to requests for comment.

Amid fallout from the convention, Matt Maddock, a Republican state representative Mr Trump had backed to become president next year, was kicked out of the House Republican caucus this week.

A spokesman for Jason Wentworth, the current State House speaker and a Republican, confirmed in an email Wednesday that Mr Maddock had been “removed” from the Republican caucus. He declined to give a reason, saying he was not authorized to discuss internal affairs. On the Michigan House Republicans website, a Mr. Maddock’s member page had been deleted.

Mr Maddock’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did Ms. Maddock, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and wife of Mr. Maddock.

The Maddocks had been strong supporters of Trump-aligned Republican candidates before the convention, including some Republican challengers to incumbents in the Legislative Assembly.

“When you’re on a team, you can’t expect to be on that team while simultaneously trying to trip up your teammates,” said Jase Bolger, a Republican former speaker of the Michigan House. “So it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect him to stay in this team while he actively opposes his teammates.”

Mr. Maddock’s withdrawal from the House Republican caucus does not jeopardize his chances of re-election, but it will make it harder for him to raise funds and maintain his influence. Of course, outside money from groups allied with Mr. Trump could help offset any fundraising losses for Mr. Maddock, the state party or other candidates aligned with the former president.

Despite the chaos, veteran Republicans in Michigan are still optimistic about the upcoming election, provided the party’s message changes.

“We need to get back to focusing on the issues, on the principles, on empowering people and moving away from divisions and personalities,” Bolger said, “and we definitely need to focus on 2022 and not 2020. “.

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Newsrust - US Top News: After Trump allies rise, revolt brews in Michigan GOP
After Trump allies rise, revolt brews in Michigan GOP
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