Michigan GOP at a Crossroads

Democrats now control all executive offices at the state and federal level as the GOP grapples with increasing extremism within the Republican party.

Michigan State Capitol building on a sunny day

With the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats now control all executive offices at the federal level as well as the state level in Michigan. This comes as Republicans deal with an insurgency of right wing extremism and conspiracy theorists inside their party.

“Not a lot appears to be changing.” – Abigail Censky, WKAR

What direction will the party take as it hopes to mount a challenge against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in next year’s election?

As part of the weekly series MichMash, hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk with WKAR politics reporter Abigail Censky about the present and future of the Republican party in Michigan.

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Censky says Republicans in Michigan will likely continue to focus on criticizing Gov. Whitmer’s response to the pandemic, despite polling that suggests a majority of Michiganders approve of her handling of the health crisis.

“I think that we can still expect to see incredible resistance from Republican leaders in the state Legislature against Gov. Whitmer and her agenda, whether that’s on things like the vaccine rollout or, particularly, the state budget,” she says. “Republicans are still incredibly angry that the state has heightened restrictions.”

The governor’s administration plans to lift its ban on indoor dining on February 1, although there will still be restrictions, including limiting restaurant capacity to 25%.

“It’s interesting to see that that’s kind of beyond reproach still, and that, that leadership is still going to go into place.” – Abigail Censky, WKAR

There’s little indication that Republicans in Michigan are willing to change course away from rhetoric that helped fuel a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. That is evident with the state party’s incoming leadership in Michigan, according to Censky.

“Not a lot appears to be changing. We have former Ambassador Ron Weiser (expected to be the new Michigan GOP chair) and Meshawn Maddock (expected to be Weiser’s co-chair),” says Censky. “(Maddock) led ‘stop the steal’ efforts in the state and was a key part of the kind of infrastructure to overturn the state’s election results, which we know from bipartisan clerks and expert testimony was a fair and safe and secure election. It’s interesting to see that that’s kind of beyond reproach still, and that, that leadership is still going to go into place.”

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  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.