"I am fully invested in Michigan in 2022 and am eager to see this state flip red once again" proclaims the least-subtle former president ever.
That sentence is from a "Dear Michigan Delegate" letter that Donald Trump's "Save America" office sent to Republican state convention delegates last month. It's an example of why Politico drops an in-depth look this week at how "Trump turns Michigan into MAGA proving ground."
The subhead reinforces that we're Ground Zero in Election 2022: "The former president's level of intervention in the swing state's elections is unmatched anywhere else."
David Siders, a national correspondent for the politics site and magazine, spoke with Trump allies in the state and visited a "MAGA mixer" at a Lansing banquet hall to report on "a great experiment currently taking place here."
Of all the states where the former president and his allies are purging the GOP of traditionalist conservatives, Michigan has emerged as perhaps MAGA’s most critical proving ground, a place where Trump’s level of intervention up and down the ballot is unmatched.
His success — or failure — in electing his unofficial slate will serve as a measure of his clout within the GOP. But it will also signal whether he has rehabilitated his standing in a key battleground — one of the five states that flipped to Joe Biden in 2020.
The 1,600-word article cites supporting evidence:
"Trump has already endorsed 10 state legislative candidates, far more than in any other state."
"He has chosen sides in close to a half-dozen congressional races — including against the two House GOP incumbents who voted for his impeachment" -- Fred Upton and Peter Meijer
He has "endorsed candidates for two statewide offices."
Those last two are Matt DePerno, trying for the attorney general nomination, and Kristina Karamo, running to be the party's pick for secretary of state at an April 23 party convention in Grand Rapids. Both are scheduled to speak Saturday before Trump at a "Save America Rally" in Macomb County.
"We need to get rid of the RINOs [Republicans in Name Only] and finish what we started," the twice-impeached former president writes in last month's DePerno endorsement letter to nominating delegates.
At a recent fundraiser, Siders writes, "Trump ... described the state as a 'laggard' in his election conspiracy crusade."
For Trump and his allies, the former president’s midterm intervention in Michigan is also part score-settling and preparation for 2024.
If Trump runs again — and, crucially, if he loses and contests the outcome — it will help him to have followers in positions of power. Already, his preferred candidates are mainstreaming baseless claims about voter fraud in Republican nominating contests, reshaping the party while risking turning off moderate voters in the general election in the fall.
Politco's writer gives the final words to John Engler, a three-term Republican governor (1991-2003) in Michigan:
"This is going to be a big year for Republicans, and the only way it won’t be is if we nominate candidates who are looking back, not forward," he said.
He said Trump is "endorsing a lot of candidates who I think are going to lose."