Insider: Michigan GOP co-chair says Trump has 'eyes' on state

Craig Mauger Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Former President Donald Trump is watching what's happening in the battleground state of Michigan and contacted a top GOP official in recent days, says Meshawn Maddock, co-chairwoman of the state Republican Party.

During a political action committee event in Oakland County on Thursday night, Maddock said she had spoken with Trump on Wednesday, according to a video posted on Facebook.

"The hope I want to give you is he has eyes on Michigan," Maddock told the crowd. "He doesn't just care about winning back governor, although he wants it. He knows we're going to win back attorney general and secretary of state. Guess what? He cares about every single seat going down."

Meshawn Maddock, the Michigan Republican Party co-chair, says she talked to former President Donald Trump on Wednesday and he has "eyes" on Michigan.

"I want to leave you with hope. Donald J. Trump is not giving up. He's not giving up on the Republican Party. So Republicans, please, don't give up on him."

Maddock's comments at a function organized by The Brighter Michigan PAC show the former president continues to be focused on local politics in a state he won in 2016 but lost in 2020. The remarks also came two days after Trump endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra of Three Rivers in his primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo, who is seeking the GOP nomination to run against incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson.

On Aug. 29, at a different GOP gathering, Maddock revealed that Trump had called Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser, but she didn't indicate when that exchange took place. 

North Carolina U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn was the headline speaker at Thursday's Brighter Michigan event. Cawthorn is viewed as a rising star in GOP politics. During his address, Cawthorn described Republicans as "happy warriors."

"If you look over to the Democratic side ... look how miserable they are," Cawthorn said. "Do you think everyone in (Michigan Democratic Gov.) Gretchen Whitmer's house is having a good time? It's literally just a contest of who can be more outraged."

DeVos not running, still a target

Last month, former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she won't seek the Republican nomination to run against Whitmer in 2022, but she acknowledged that she was aware that the Democratic incumbent had been fundraising off the idea.

While DeVos is no longer a potential candidate, Whitmer is still raising money off the wealthy Republican political donor from west Michigan.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's campaign continues to use Betsy DeVos as a fundraising tool.

"DeVos 'says she'll do what she can to unseat Whitmer in November 2022,'" says the outside envelope of a fundraising message from Whitmer's campaign in recent days.

The comment was based on DeVos telling The Detroit News last month she is committed to ensuring Whitmer will be a one-term governor. DeVos and her family are consistently among the largest political donors in Michigan. Ahead of the 2020 elections, members of the family combined to give more than $10.7 million in contributions.

Snyder to speak at chamber event

Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at a Lansing Regional Chamber event Tuesday in East Lansing. 

The Ann Arbor businessman will be part of a panel at the Lansing Economic Club that will discuss Michigan's agricultural economy, alongside Herbruck Eggs CEO Greg Herbruck. Pridgeon Farms owner Paul Pridgeon will moderate the discussion at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

Snyder, who led the state during Detroit's bankruptcy and took criticism for his handling of the Flint water crisis, has taken few speaking engagements since leaving office. He was charged in January with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty for his alleged role in the lead-contaminated water crisis. 

The panel is sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance. The event will be in person, but a virtual option will be available. 

Nessel: Feelings on Roe haven't changed

Amid speculation that the U.S. Supreme Court could soon rule against the landmark abortion precedent set in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Michigan's Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel says her feelings on the subject haven't changed.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announces the kick off for the "Be Counted" campaign for the Michigan Census in Pontiac on Monday, February 17, 2020.

In 2019, the state's top law enforcement official said she would not enforce an abortion ban if federal protections were overturned.

"My sentiments on this issue have never changed, nor has my commitment to protecting a woman’s right to make decisions in respect to her own body," Nessel said in a statement on Wednesday.

Michigan has a decades-old law on the books that generally bans abortions, unless the life of the mother is at stake. If the Supreme Court strikes down the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1931 state law could be fully restored.

Whitmer has asked the GOP-controlled Legislature to repeal the old law. But Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said that won't happen.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

eleblanc@detroitnews.com