Michigan GOP chair Weiser sorry for comments about top Dem officials

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser issued an apology Saturday for his comments labeling the state's top Democratic officeholders as "witches" and stated he's never advocated for violence.

During an event in Oakland County Thursday, Weiser, also a member of the University of Michigan's Board of Regents, said the party is focused on beating the "three witches" in 2022, referring to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — the three statewide Democratic leaders who are up for re-election next year.

"In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night," Weiser said in a GOP statement.

Ron Weiser

"I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will. While I will always fight for the people and policies I believe in, I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward."

Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted Sunday morning that Weiser was not apologizing but "trying to salvage his relationship with ⁦‪@UMich⁩."

Nessel said if Weiser's comments inspired assassination attempts against the officials he "would be fine with it as long as the university named another hall after him."

Weiser's apology was issued Saturday following a statement from University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel Saturday that Weiser's remarks "do not represent the university's values or beliefs."

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel

Schlissel said the university Board of Regents are elected by Michigan voters on a statewide ballot and the process for recalling a regent is under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Secretary of State's Office.

"A recent widely reported set of remarks by a member of the U-M Board of Regents does not represent the values or beliefs of the University of Michigan. I condemn any suggestion of violence against a duly elected state or federal official," Schlissel stated. "Such words are particularly abhorrent in a climate where so recently the use of language has engendered violence and attempted violence directed at elected officials, our democratic institutions, and the individuals who guard them."

In a video obtained by The News, Weiser made the comments while taking questions from the audience at a North Oakland Republican Club meeting.

Watch the video here

Jake Rollow, spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, which is led by Benson, responded to Weiser's Saturday statement: "The people of Michigan deserve more than a half-apology when the leader of one of our two major political parties suggests violence over democracy."

Someone in the crowd can be heard asking about the "witches in our own party" during a discussion about how to unseat U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids Township, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in January.

"Ma'am, other than assassination, I have no other way ... other than voting out. OK?" Weiser said. "You people have to go out there and support their opponents. You have to do what you need to get out the vote in those areas. That's how you beat people."

Schlissel further said elected officials must adhere to a higher standard, "regardless of the context of their remarks."

"It is never appropriate to raise the specter of assassination or perpetuate misogynistic stereotypes against anyone in any setting," he concluded.

Weiser's statement Saturday came a day after he tweeted that his comments had been taken out of context.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_

Staff Writer Craig Mauger contributed.