The Michigan GOP is suffering from a crisis of conscience. After significant top-of-the-ticket losses in the November election, the pro-Trump attempted coup and a series of ongoing scandals involving their leadership both old and new, it’s safe to say that the state GOP is at a crossroads.
Over the weekend, Michigan Republicans elected University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser to lead the party. He has served as party chair twice before, first from 2009 to 2011 and then again from 2017 to 2019. Weiser is also embroiled in several scandals, including accusations from departing state party chair Laura Cox of a “sleazy payoff” and gross misuse of party funds over the years. His new party co-chair Meshawn Maddock is another cause for concern, as she organized bus trips to the January 6 Washington D.C. rally that turned into a violent insurrection and riot. She is part of a larger group of new state party officers who have continued to spread lies about widespread election fraud and sought to overturn the results of the November election.
Listen: The future of the Michigan GOP post-Trump.
Jonathan Oosting is a Michigan politics reporter for Bridge Michigan. He recently wrote about the chaos broiling within the Michigan Republican Party. Oosting says there was a lot of commotion leading up to the party convention and Weiser’s party chair vote. “There’s been a whole lot of distractions for (the Michigan GOP) in recent weeks and really the days leading up to this convention,” says Oosting. He adds that two days before the convention, Laura Cox encouraged voters to temporarily re-elect her as head of the Michigan Republican Party, citing concerns of campaign finance violations during Weiser’s tenure. Despite the accusations, Weiser was elected as chair, bringing with him access to wealthy donors. “Ron Weiser is known for his fundraising prowess. He himself is a mega-donor… But beyond that, the civil war, the war between the Trump faction and other Republicans, it’s going to be interesting to see how he walks that line,” says Oosting of the challenges Weiser faces as chair of the Michigan GOP. He adds that Weiser will have to navigate the more radical, grassroots part of the party while also balancing the concerns of corporations, who are reluctant to donate to certain far-right candidates.