The Michigan Republican Party Faces Turmoil and Infighting
The Fallout from Donald J. Trump’s Election Lies
A Starving Party
The Michigan Republican Party is currently facing a financial crisis. In addition, a group of prominent party activists, including a former statewide candidate, have recently been charged with felonies related to an unusual scheme to manipulate election machines. These troubles have caused suspicion and infighting within the party. A recent state committee meeting even resulted in a physical altercation, a spinal injury, and damaged dentures.
The Impact of Trump’s Lies
Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election have deeply divided the Michigan Republican Party. Supporters of Trump’s false narratives exist alongside pragmatists who want to move on. This divide has resulted in bitter disputes, power struggles, and contentious primaries. Consequently, the party has been weakened and its future prospects have dimmed.
A Struggle for Relevance
Michigan has become a safer battleground for Democrats, with no Republican winning a statewide election since Trump’s victory in 2016. The state’s GOP officials are becoming increasingly concerned about not having a strong candidate to run for the open Senate seat. The party is struggling to raise funds, with many donors remaining on the sidelines.
The Slow Unraveling of the State Party
From Reagan Democrats to Trump Acolytes
The unraveling of the Michigan Republican Party began long before the 2020 election. During the Obama administration, the party’s right wing grew more vocal and active. After Trump’s win in 2016, Trump loyalists started taking over many party positions that were previously held by the Republican establishment. By 2021, the party was divided between those who believed in Trump’s false election claims and those who wanted to move forward.
A Rift in the Party
The division within the party became evident when controversial figures like Matthew DePerno, Kristina Karamo, and Meshawn Maddock emerged as leaders. These individuals perpetuated falsehoods about the 2020 election and ran for key positions within the party. However, their nominations were heavily criticized by more moderate Republicans, including the influential DeVos family. Factionalism and conflict intensified within the party.
The Consequences of Falsehoods
DePerno, Karamo, and Maddock, as the party’s standard-bearers, focused their campaigns on perpetuating false claims about the 2020 election. As a result, they suffered resounding defeats in the 2022 midterm cycle. Republicans also lost control of both chambers of the State Legislature, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer won by a landslide. The party was left with internal blame and finger-pointing.
The Struggles Continue
A Party in Disarray
The Michigan Republican Party’s problems extend beyond infighting and fundraising difficulties. Recently, DePerno, a former state representative, and a lawyer were charged with felonies related to an illegal plan to obtain voting machines. This further damages the party’s reputation.
A Withering Party
Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, one of the state’s last elected Republicans, has started directing his fundraising efforts away from the state party and towards the House Republican caucus. Other prominent Republicans, such as members of the DeVos family, have also redirected their funds. These actions indicate a lack of confidence in the state party and its ability to regain political influence.