Donald Trump backs Rep. Maddock as he runs for Michigan House leader

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Former President Donald Trump threw his support Thursday behind Michigan Rep. Matt Maddock, one of his most committed followers in the Legislature, as Maddock campaigns to be the next state House GOP leader.

Maddock, a second-term Republican lawmaker from Milford who has advanced Trump's unproven claims that the 2020 election was stolen, posted Thursday a photo of a printed Detroit News story about his run to be the caucus's leader next term. The document appeared to be signed and edited by Trump.

Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock shared this image on Nov. 11, 2021, which apparently shows a message of support from former President Donald Trump.

"I am with you all the way," the message above Trump's apparent signature said. "Also, you have a great wife."

Maddock's wife is Meshawn Maddock, co-chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and an ally of the former president.

"Thank you Mr. President, we won’t let you down," Matt Maddock posted on Twitter and Facebook in response to the image.

The photo appeared to include edits of The News story. The letters "un" were crossed out in the story's reference to unproven claims about the 2020 presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden won in Michigan by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. The edits also appeared to add the word "rigged" to describe the vote.

Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford, is shown in the Michigan Capitol Building in this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo.

Hours later on Thursday, Trump's political action committee sent out a formal statement endorsing Maddock. However, the statement didn't explicitly say the former president was supporting Maddock to lead the House GOP caucus.

"If Michigan drains the Lansing swamp, it will take a leader like Matt Maddock to do it," Trump's statement said. "Matt is running for re-election. He has my complete and total endorsement. We need leadership in Michigan who will investigate and document the 2020 voter fraud, the crime of the century."

Earlier in the day, Meshawn Maddock shared the image of Trump's written message. Her response included a heart symbol and the words "those sharpie edits."

A series of court rulings, dozens of audits and a probe by the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate Oversight Committee have all upheld the results of Michigan's election.

Rep. Maddock didn't provide an answer about how he received the written Trump note. The lawmaker from Milford confirmed in a Tuesday interview that he hoped to be the House GOP's leader in the 2023-24 term.

In September, Meshawn Maddocktold a crowd at an event in Oakland County about a conversation she recently had with Trump. Later in the month, she and Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig planned to visit the former president.

Trump has endorsed a handful of Michigan candidates who've agreed with his assertions about fraud in the election, including attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno and secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo.

Maddock was one of 12 Michigan lawmakers who signed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to require legislative certification of Michigan's presidential results and one of 11 Republicans who signed a letter asking then-Vice President Mike Pence to delay certification of electoral votes in battleground states. He was also part of a group of Republicans who attempted to enter the Michigan Capitol Dec. 14 to cast an alternate slate of electoral votes. 

Trump's apparent backing of Maddock would add a new wrinkle to the race to be the state House's next GOP leader.

Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, another vocal Trump supporter, is seen by many as the early favorite for the position and has gained the backing of 15 of his colleagues. Hall has pushed for changes in election law but has been less outspoken than Maddock about efforts to audit and intervene in the 2020 election results. Hall was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which took testimony about the election from Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 2, 2020.

Maddock appears to be pressing for support among newcomer candidates who could join the House GOP caucus next term.

Michigan Republicans now hold a 55-52 seat majority in the state House. The current speaker, Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, is term-limited and can't seek another term. Every seat will be on the ballot in 2022.

cmauger@detroitnews.com