Weiser again seeks Michigan GOP chairman’s job

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Longtime Michigan GOP power broker Ron Weiser wants to be back in chairman’s seat at the state Republican Party.

Weiser on Friday declared his campaign to be chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, which the wealthy Ann Arbor real estate developer ran for in 2009 and 2010.

In an email to Michigan Republican activists, he said the 2018 mid-term poses a challenge to Republicans retaining power in Lansing with a sitting GOP president in the White House.

“We need to put our ‘A’ team on the field to make sure that President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have a Republican governor in Michigan and an additional Republican U.S. senator in Washington to make sure they can implement their agenda,” he said.

Weiser announced his candidacy one day after telling The Detroit News he was “considering” a bid for the chairman’s seat and two days after Trump endorsed the current chairwoman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, to chair the Republican National Committee.

He said he would focus on “inspiring Trump voters” in the party’s grassroots, continuing to build on McDaniel’s political party operations and raising money, which is his specialty.

Weiser is a regarded nationally as one of the best fundraisers for the Republican Party, having served as RNC finance chair and raised money for Trump’s campaign, transition and inauguration.

“Putting our ‘A’ team on the field means having the very best ground war and air war,” he wrote in the email. “We need the best team inspiring the grassroots and the best team raising money to support our efforts.”

Weiser is the founder of McKinley Associates Inc., an Ann Arbor-based real estate management firm, and was elected last month to a seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. In 2014, he and his wife, Eileen, donated $50 million to UM.

Weiser’s decision to jump into the race sets up a potential showdown in the Michigan GOP’s rank-and-file between the establishment and grassroots activists aligned with the other candidate, Scott Hagerstrom, a veteran GOP political operative who ran Trump’s Michigan campaign.

Hagerstrom could not be reached Friday for comment.

But in a Facebook post Tuesday, Hagerstrom made it clear his campaign for the state party chairmanship will be modeled after Trump’s outside campaign for the presidency.

“As leader of Trump’s Michigan campaign, I saw firsthand how little party leadership actually did to help elect Mr. Trump,” Hagerstrom wrote. “... As state party chair, I will work hard to use the momentum from Donald Trump’s historic victory into real change – legislation that delivers actual results, not just more empty rhetoric. Donald Trump’s win showed the Republican Party is fueled by the grassroots and everyday Michiganders, not Lansing elites.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood