Michigan GOP selects new member of U.S. committee

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Lansing--Michigan Republicans chose Kathleen Berden of Snover as their new national committeewoman at a meeting of the Party’s 113-member state committee in Boyne Falls on Saturday.

Berden, who lives in Sanilac County in Michigan’s Thumb region, defeated Mary Whiteford of South Haven on the second ballot.

State Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell, the third candidate, was eliminated on the first ballot. She and Whiteford both are from Allegan County in west Michigan.

"I look forward to meeting with activists across the state and working with candidates and volunteers to build our party and turn Michigan red in 2016," Berden said after her election.

Berden, 61, replaces Ronna Romney McDaniel, who in February was elected state party chairwoman. National committeewoman is an unpaid position.

“I know Kathleen’s communication skills, work ethic and dedication to conservative principles will be an asset to our Michigan Republican team,” Romney McDaniel said in a statement.

A state committee member, Berden is a former chairwoman of the Sanilac County Republican Party. She joins former state Rep. Dave Agema of Grand Rapids and Romney McDaniel on the Republican National Committee.

Agema has resisted calls from top GOP leaders to resign over racist and anti-gay messages he posted on social media. Berden, Whiteford and Gamrat didn’t join the call for his resignation

Berden was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, among others. Those backing Whiteford included Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

Whiteford is a state committee member and vice chairwoman of the Allegan County Republican Party. She lost the Republican primary for the 80th House District to Gamrat last year.

Last month, Gamrat was booted out of the House Republican caucus in a dispute over claims she was sharing information about internal party discussions and strategy with her readers on social media. House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, has declined to elaborate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.