Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock bolts ahead of party, endorsing 2 Trump-backed candidates

March 14, 2022, 4:57 PM by  Allan Lengel

State GOP co-Chair Meshawn Maddock with Kristina Karamo and Matthew DePerno.

Going against protocol, Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock endorsed attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno and secretary of state hopeful Kristina Karamo. Both are supported by former President Donald Trump.

"She is a party leader. Party leaders do not get involved in convention contests or primaries," a GOP insider tells Deadline Detroit, explaining that they generally stay neutral to avoid claims of bias and party friction.

"Meshawn's endorsement is in a personal capacity," state party communications directror Gustavo Portela tells Gongwer Michigan, a Lansing newsletter, and the Detroit Free Press.

That's challenged by Rodericka Applewhaite, senior coimmunications adviser for the Michigan Democratic Party. "Maddock herself doesn't bother [to] make that distinction in statement," she tweets. "No caveat ... that this isn't to be seen as anything but lockstep with @MIGOP."

Party delegates will endorse candidates for both offices at an April 23 convention in Grand Rapids, when they'll also endorse university board nominees and two state Supreme Court candidates. (Although the general elections for justices and campus trustees are nonpartisan, political parties can nominate candidates.) 

"Bottom line, we're for sure going to lose every one of these seats," said the GOP insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's not going to be close.

"The Republicans are expected to have success in the midterms. Unfortunately, Michigan won't be one of them. Our party is completely divided."

Dan Pero, former Michigan Gov. John Engler's chief of staff, commented on Facebook: "This kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Sad. Party leaders shouldn’t put their thumbs on the scales."

Bernadette Smith of Grandville, the state party's ethnic vice chairwoman, joined Maddock on Monday in announcing support for DePerno, The Detroit News reports. Two others seeking nomination to opposed Attorney General Dana Nessel are state Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce Township, and former House Speaker Tom Leonard of DeWitt.

Trump has endorsed candidates around the country who support his claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Some GOP canidates who have disagreed have been attacked by Trump.

A Bridge Michigan reporter tweets the reaction of a rival Republican running for secretary of state: 

Republican prospects wanting to run against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also include Cindy Berry of Macomb County. who's quoted Tuesday by the Free Press (paywall) as saying Maddock assureed her months ago she didn't plan to endorse any candidates before the convention.

“She told me personally and I know she's told other candidates as well that she was staying out of this, that she wasn't going to endorse," said Berry, who is currently the clerk in Chesterfield Township. "That regardless of what we had heard, she was not supporting one candidate or another.

"And now she's got compromised character and integrity because now she's coming out and endorsing."

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