Weiser ‘considering’ a run for Michigan GOP leader

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Former Michigan Republican Party leader Ron Weiser said Thursday he’s “considering” a bid to regain the chairman’s seat following the departure of Ronna Romney McDaniel to run the Republican National Committee.

Weiser, an Ann Arbor real estate developer, served as chairman of the state GOP in the 2010 election cycle when voters swept Republicans into total control of state government.

The 2018 election is seen as a test of the GOP’s staying power in Lansing after eight years of Republican control of the Legislature and the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state, as well as the Michigan Supreme Court.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing also is up for re-election in less than two years, giving Republicans a chance to try to knock off a longtime incumbent following President-elect Donald Trump’s upset victory in Michigan over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of resources and experience, both of which I have available,” said Weiser, a former RNC finance chairman. “I just think that combination could give us a better opportunity to have a governor and possibly a senator who can help President Trump take the country in a new direction.”

Weiser is mulling a bid for the chairmanship as Trump’s former Michigan campaign manager, Scott Hagerstrom, ramps up a campaign for the top post in the state Republican Party.

Hagerstrom announced his campaign for the seat four weeks before McDaniel won Trump’s endorsement to run the national party.

“President-elect Trump is on his way to make America great again,” Hagerstrom said Thursday in a statement. “If elected to serve as MRP chairman, I will work with Trump’s team to make Michigan great again, too. We know what work needs to be done and look forward to your support of my campaign to fill the now vacant MRP chair position.”

Michigan Republican activists and leaders will gather Feb. 10-11 to elect a new chairman.

“I want to make sure that we can continue to hold on to the gains that we’ve made over the last several years,” said Weiser, a longtime Republican mega donor and fundraiser.

Weiser said he hasn’t set a timeline to decide whether to run for the seat against Hagerstrom.

“I’ve got some time to decide,” said Weiser, who served as former President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Slovakia from November 2001 to December 2004.

Weiser was elected last month to the University of Michigan Board of Regents, an unpaid post that he says is already taking up a lot of time.

Since the election, Weiser also been raising donations for Trump’s transition team and inauguration as a national vice chair of both committees.

Weiser’s wife, Eileen, is an elected Republican member of Michigan’s State Board of Education.

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood