Leonard won't seek state GOP chair; Trump campaign endorses Cox

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
FILE - Michigan State GOP Attorney General candidate Tom Leonard, speaks at the conclusion of the 2018 Republican State Convention in Lansing Saturday August 25, 2018.

Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard will not run for Michigan Republican Party chairman despite calls for him to do so from several members of the state GOP.

A few days after announcing he was considering a run, Leonard wrote on Facebook Thursday morning that the position certainly “isn’t the right role for me right now.” Leonard, who recently lost his campaign for attorney general, said the role will be “critical” to the party's success in 2020.

“Whoever emerges as our next party chair will have my full support,” Leonard wrote. He had received backing from Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen.-elect Tom Barrett and Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot.

His decision comes shortly after Rep. Laura Cox announced an endorsement for her bid for chair from Brad Parscale, the national campaign manager for Donald Trump for President 2020. Cox, who recently lost her bid for state Senate, is the right person to lead the party in 2020, Parscale said in a statement.

“Laura is a strong conservative who has won tough elections and knows how to get things done,” he said.

GOP activist Gina Barr announced earlier this week that she would also make a bid for Michigan’s GOP chairman, arguing in a Facebook post for a "change in tactics” after a midterm in which Republicans lost the governor, attorney general and secretary of state seats to Democratic candidates.

“We need to reorganize from a bottom up perspective, not a top down,” wrote Barr, a GOP field organizer in Detroit and Wayne County who has served as the Republican National Committee director of women and urban engagement.

“Politics as usual is not going to cut it in the upcoming years,” she wrote.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser will not seek re-election in 2019, party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said. 

The chairs for the state Republican and Democratic parties will be decided at separate conventions in February.


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