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Lansing — Michigan Republican Party chairman Bobby Schostak announced Friday he will not seek re-election in February to another two-year term as head of the state GOP.

Schostak’s decision to not seek re-election is likely to set off a competitive race for the chairman’s seat. Just two years ago, Schostak eeked out a victory against conservative tea party activist Todd Courser, who was elected a state representative last month and takes office in January.

Republican Party activists will elect a new chairman at their state convention in late February in Lansing.

In an open letter to Republicans, Schostak touted electoral victories the party has enjoyed during his four years as chairman, including the November elections in which the GOP retained its control over all levels of state government.

“As a result, I feel now is the time to turn the mantle over to the next great leader to take this organization to the next level as I focus on helping Republicans in Michigan and across the country in new ways,” Schostak said in the letter.

As recently as last week, Schostak had said he was “leaning” toward seeking a third two-year term as chairman.

Schostak did not elaborate on what he would do next, but the statement did not indicate he would be returning to his family’s real estate and fast food restaurant business. A spokesman said he was unavailable for comment Friday.

“I look forward to being a part of political discussions and engagement in Michigan and beyond in the coming months and years,” Schostak said. “With our collective efforts, Michigan will continue to be led by solid conservative Republican leaders for generations to come.”

The Michigan Republican Party issued Schostak’s statement just hours after the GOP-controlled Legislature ended a marathon last day of its lame duck session and adjourned for the year.

Outgoing state Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, told The Detroit News last week he “more than likely” would run for the chairman’s position if Schostak did not. Lund is term-limited and will be out of a job on Jan. 1.

Other possible candidates mentioned in Republican circles include 14th Congressional District chairman Paul Welday, Republican National Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, as well as lesser-known GOP political operatives.

Welday, a political consultant, previously served as chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg and McDaniel is the niece of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood

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