Lansing – Longtime political power broker and prolific fundraiser Ron Weiser is poised to serve as the next chairman of the Michigan Republican party after his only competition dropped out of the race.
Scott Hagerstrom, a conservative activist who worked last year as state director for President Donald Trump’s winning campaign, announced his withdrawal Sunday.
The move came just days after Weiser won endorsements from two top Trump aides, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, a public show of support that suggested backing from the president himself.
In a statement on social media, Hagerstrom said he decided to end his campaign after talks with multiple members of the Trump White House.
“This is not the end, but the beginning of something great,” he wrote. “I am confident that Ron Weiser understands that the future of the Michigan Republican Party lies in embracing the constitutional principles that led to President Trump’s historic victory.”
Republican delegates will formally elect their next state party chair in a Feb. 11 state convention. Weiser and Hagerstrom were the only two candidates who filed for the race by an official deadline.
Weiser is poised to succeed Ronna Romney McDaniel, who Trump tapped to replace Priebus as chair of the Republican National Committee.
The wealthy Ann Arbor developer recently won a seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, a post he plans to keep. Weiser chaired the state party before, from 2009 through 2011, and helped raise funds for Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration.
Hagerstrom is expected to work in the state party under Weiser, likely as a deputy chair. Weiser previously and publicly discussed offering Hagerstrom such a role early in the race. The former opponents appear to have maintained an amicable relationship, and they were quick to compliment each other Sunday.
“Scott is an excellent leader who is very important to making certain that Republicans win again,” Weiser said in a statement moments after Hagerstrom’s withdrawal announcement. “We will unite our party for victory in 2018 to elect a Republican Governor and Republican U.S. Senator who will help President Trump implement conservative policies.”
Hagerstrom, a grassroots favorite, urged party unity as he exited the race and told his supporters that Weiser has a long history of working with conservative Republicans.
Not only was Weiser a “top fundraiser” for the Trump campaign, Hagerstrom wrote, “but he also played a pivotal role in making Michigan a right to work state.” Weiser helped push for the 2012 law prohibiting union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes on Nov. 8. He was the first Republican to win the state since 1988.
Michigan Democrats are expected to vote for party chair and other posts at their own state convention on Feb. 11. As of last week, current Chairman Brandon Dillon was the only announced candidate, but others could still enter the race under party rules.