Is Donald Trump still the leader of the Republican Party both nationally and in Michigan? The people who showed up for his rally in Washington Township in northern Macomb County Saturday night sure as hell think he is.
Trump showed up here in the Great Lake State this past Saturday for his first visit to the state since the 2020 election. That he picked Macomb County, which is home to the vast blue-collar network that supported him in both 2016 and 2020, is no surprise. The county overwhelmingly supported him and his run for the presidency both times.
Trump won Michigan in 2016 by the slimmest of margins and lost the state in 2020 by around 150,000 votes. So his visit here right before the nominating meetings for some of the statewide offices later this month is similar to other events Trump has done around the country.
As I have argued on these pages and on my radio show multiple times, Michigan is a blue state that on occasion slips to be purple. So the Trump visit here weeks before the Republican candidates for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state are nominated will show if he still has a big enough following to move the state party and the direction he sees fit.
From The Detroit News…
Former President Donald Trump sought to retain his role as a “kingmaker” in the Michigan Republican Party in a speech over the weekend, but political analysts wonder if his focus on the November 2020 election will snarl the party’s chances in the 2022 general election.
Trump met a welcoming crowd at a sports complex in Macomb County on Saturday as he sought to reinforce his relevance ahead of the 2024 election, hinting he might run again for president. Thousands of people sat or stood on artificial turf for nearly two hours as the former president named his set of preferred candidates and joined calls for Trump loyalists to take control of state party politics.
The former president told attendees at the at-capacity Michigan Stars Sport Center to ask each state candidate on April 23 “if they will support the Trump ticket.”
“If they won’t give you that assurance, don’t give them your vote,” Trump said.
Trump’s strategy of flying in right before nominating elections in the primaries has so far worked out well for the candidates in other states and shows that he still has the pull to put people he endorses over the top. Yet as I mentioned above, Michigan is a little bit of a different state than the others that he’s been to. This is a blue state that every once in a blue moon turns purple so this will be a really good test of how much sway he has here.
The candidates for secretary of state and attorney general are political newbies and scored the coveted endorsement from the former President.
Even if Oak Park educator Kristina Karamo, who is running for the state’s top election official, and Kalamazoo lawyer Matthew DePerno, who is seeking the top law enforcement officer post, become the Republican nominees, they are pushing early messages that don’t promise to resonate with voters in the November general election, the pundits said.
“There’s just a lot of people running this year for these major positions” who have no history in government, said Bill Ballenger, a former Republican lawmaker and author of The Ballenger Report. “… the Republicans may end up with a whole bunch of people who have no track record.
Having no track record — as opposed to the track record of Dana Nessel and Jocelyn Benson — probably won’t be a huge hindrance. Both Nessel and Benson have made news over the past four years that has not been as favorable as they likely had hoped.
Noticeably, the former president did not endorse his pick for governor yet. The contest to pick who will face off against Governor Whitmer in November is on a different timetable than that for the attorney general or secretary of state. The voters will pick who wins that contest later this year, on August 2nd. I imagine that the battle for that endorsement amongst the candidates who are running for the GOP nomination will start to heat up very soon. As of today, Monday, April 4th, there are only 120 days left until the primary.
Now, I know this drives #NeverTrump crazy, but Trump will be a force in the GOP until it is proven that he is no longer a force with Republicans both nationally and in states like Michigan. We have seen many examples of politicians way past their prime thinking they still have some pull in their party and they get dragged to the woodshed to be put out to pasture. The two most recent examples of that are Bill Clinton and George W Bush. They both could endorse somebody and it wouldn’t even make a dent on the radar, yet Trump’s endorsement is still highly sought.
One damn thing is for certain, though — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has shown that she is not worthy, through her actions over the past four years, of another four years. Whether the Republican Party in the state of Michigan and the candidate that is ultimately selected can defeat her in November is yet to be determined.
Yet, if we don’t want to be the California of the Midwest I sure as hell hope that she is sent into early retirement on January 1st, 2023.
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