Republicans punish Trump loyalist, Democrats challenge gubernatorial petitions: The week in Michigan politics

LANSING, MI-The Michigan Republican Party took center stage this week following a chaotic endorsement convention which marked big wins for Trump-backed candidates.

State Rep. Matt Maddock, a loyalist to former president Donald Trump and husband of Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, was removed from the House GOP caucus on Tuesday after supporting Trump-backed candidates challenging Republican incumbents in the upcoming primary election.

Maddock’s removal from the House GOP caucus comes shortly after a successful weekend for Trump-aligned candidates in Michigan. Several candidates endorsed by the former president won the Michigan Republican Party’s endorsements at the party’s convention in Grand Rapids Saturday, April 23.

As election workers gear up for May 3 elections across Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson this week encouraged voters to deliver their absentee ballots in person at their local clerk’s office.

The May 3 elections across the state will include races to fill four vacancies in the Michigan House of Representatives, while the rest of the elections are for millages or local-level elected positions or proposals.

Here’s what you missed this week in Michigan politics:

Trump still supreme among Michigan Republicans. Can his picks win in November?

The state party’s endorsements last weekend were a win for Donald Trump and his supporters.

Matt DePerno won Saturday’s Michigan Republican endorsement convention with 54% of the vote. Trump’s other chosen candidate, Kristina Karamo, easily won the endorsement for secretary of state with 67% of the vote.

But the former president’s power and influence over the GOP was perhaps most evident by how Leonard pitched himself to Michigan Republicans Saturday. Despite being ridiculed by the former president, Leonard still thought it was in his best interest to message that he is aligned with the pro-Trump side of the party, and attempt to argue he is among the former president’s chosen champions.

The selection of Trump-backed candidates by Michigan Republicans could backfire, some political experts say, once the GOP nominees line up against Democratic incumbents seeking reelection.

“This is Trump’s party. And he’s going to watch it implode, ”said John Truscott, former spokesperson for Republican Gov. John Engler and current CEO at public relations firm Truscott-Rossman.

Trump-endorsed state Rep. Matt Maddock booted from Michigan House GOP caucus

Rep. Matt Maddock speaks alongside other Republican State legislators during a press conference asking for an increase in the capacity limit before Detroit Tigers Opening Day Monday March 15, 2021 at Comerica park in Detroit. Nicole Hester/Mlive.com

The Milford Township Republican was seen sitting at his desk on the House floor while the rest of the Republicans were in caucus Tuesday afternoon. Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesperson for House Speaker Jason Wentworth, confirmed Maddock was booted from caucus Tuesday but declined to say why.

Maddock is vying to become the next Speaker of the House, and was endorsed by Trump last year. Maddock has donated to several candidates running against Republican incumbents in August’s primary election.

Through Maddock’s PAC, the Maddock Leadership Fund, the lawmaker has contributed to several Trump-endorsed candidates.

Rep. Jewell Jones declined offer to return to legislative committees after criminal conviction

Jones hearing

State Rep. Jewell Jones (left) sits next to his attorney Byron Nolen during a Dec. 10 hearing at a Livingston County courtroom.

Third-term state Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, will not be returning to his legislative committees. Jones declined an offer to return to his assignments after being removed from them during a months-long legal fight, according to a House spokesperson.

Jones was removed from assignments on the Regulatory Reform and the Military, Veterans and Homeland Security committees.

The lawmaker was offered reappointment to his House committee assignments following his sentencing on charges stemming from an April 2021 arrest in Livingston County, said Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesperson for House Speaker Jason Wentworth. The lawmaker declined the offer, D’Assandro said.

The 26-year-old lawmaker was removed from his committee assignments in September 2021 in light of the criminal case. Wentworth cited a lack of trust in Jones’ “ability to conduct the people’s work” after he was alleged to have snuck a handcuff key into a Livingston County jail following a bond hearing.

Democrat challenge could disqualify top GOP candidates for Michigan governor

Republican candidates for governor James Craig, Perry Johnson and Tudor Dixon turned in enough signatures to get on the primary ballot this August, as did several others. But the petitions submitted by Craig, Johnson and Dixon campaigns could be disqualified, if new challenges from the Michigan Democratic Party are successful.

The MDP filed more than 250 pages worth of complaints to the state on Tuesday, April 26, prior to the 5 pm deadline for challenges to candidates’ nominating petitions.

The Democrats allege dead people signed petitions for candidates, some people signed multiple petitions, names were forged, people signed who are not registered to vote and petitions were filled out incorrectly.

The Democratic Party’s complaint calls for a full audit of the signatures for all 10 Republican candidates for governor. The Board of State Canvassers has until May 31 to review the nominating petitions.

28 candidates for office in Michigan get petition signatures challenged

The candidates for governor were not the only ones to see petition challenges.

Overall, petition signatures from 28 candidates seeking office in 2022 – including seven Republicans, two Democrats and 19 nonpartisan candidates – were formally challenged with the state. The list of 28 includes three candidates for governor and six candidates for US representative. The others are judicial candidates.

The Board of State Canvassers has until May 31 to review the petitions to see if there are enough invalid ones to disqualify any candidates.

In addition, Wayne County reported two additional challenges to signatures submitted by candidates in the race for U.S. representative in the 13th District. The county handles petition challenges for that congressional race, since the entire district is within Wayne County.

Will the losers from Michigan’s Republican convention concede?

Michigan GOP Convention

Supporters of Matthew DePerno, who is running for the republican Attorney General nomination, march and carry signs in front of the stage during the Michigan Republican convention at Devos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich., On Saturday, April 23, 2022. (Daniel Shular | MLive.com)Daniel Shular | MLive.com

Republicans are predicting a “red wave” at the ballot box this fall.

But Republicans who did not get their party’s nod at the Michigan Republican Party endorsement convention held Saturday, April 23, think it will take a “tsunami” for newly endorsed candidates Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo to win their respective races.

DePerno beat Tom Leonard and Ryan Berman to win the GOP endorsement to run for attorney general, challenging Democrat Dana Nessel in November’s general election. Karamo beat Beau LaFave and Cindy Berry, winning the party’s endorsement for secretary of state to challenge incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson.

But will Leonard, Berman, LaFave and Berry concede? One candidate says it is “too soon,” pointing to the possibility endorsements could be changed at the GOP’s August convention. Another is still collecting campaign contributions.

Republicans aim to prohibit transgender athletes from girls’ sports through state school budget

The House budget proposal for Michigan’s School Aid Fund now includes language that would require schools to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports.

The GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee approved the proposed spending plan, House Bill 5795, in a vote along party lines this week. The proposed $ 20 billion budget includes a $ 9,000 per-pupil allowance for Michigan schools and $ 514 million for teacher retention programs for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

The bill, in its current form, also ties funding to a requirement: schools must “prohibit boys from competing in girls’ athletic activities,” the bill states. Bill sponsors state Rep. Brad Paquette, R-Niles, said the ban is meant to ensure fairness for student athletes.

“This section is very clearly saying that individuals that are biologically built like a boy should not participate with girls, that there’s a clear differentiation between those two genders, and that there’s a clear advantage physically,” he said.

Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, said the legislation clearly targets transgender student athletes.

“I think it’s pretty clear that they’re out to prohibit transgender girls from being able to play sports with girls,” Kaplan said. “I mean, it’s just cruel, it’s a cruel legislative attempt. And it’s a solution, looking for a problem. ”

The state Senate and governor’s office have each introduced separate budget proposals for the School Aid Fund, neither of which include any language related to gender and sports.

Voters should hand-deliver absentee ballots ahead of May 3 elections, Michigan SOS says

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging voters to hand-deliver their absentee ballots ahead of the May 3 election.

Calls to hand-deliver absentee ballots from the Secretary of State comes ahead of the May 3 elections in dozens of jurisdictions across Michigan. The May 3 elections across the state will include races to fill four vacancies in the Michigan House of Representatives, while the rest of the elections are for millages or local-level elected positions and proposals.

Absentee ballots must be returned by 8 pm on Election Day.

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Trump still supreme among Michigan Republicans. Can his picks win in November?

Democrat challenge could disqualify top GOP candidates for Michigan governor

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Meet the Republican party’s endorsements vying for offices in the 2022 general election

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