A memo from the Mich. GOP gives scathing postmortem on Trump-backed candidates

LANSING — Michigan’s Republican Party suffered historic losses on Tuesday due to bad candidates closely linked to former President Donald Trump who turned away major donors, the party’s chief of staff said in a scathing post-election memo obtained by the Free Press.

“As a Party, we have found ourselves constantly navigating the power struggle between Trump and anti-Trump factions in the Party, primarily within the donor class,” Paul Cordes said in Thursday’s memo.

“This power struggle ended with too many on the sidelines and hurt Republicans in key races. Ultimately, high-quality, substantial candidates and well-funded campaigns are still essential to winning the elections. at the expense of Michiganders across the state.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, with a weak identity, no campaign money and no political experience, had to ‘start from scratch’ after the primary, while Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her allies sat on tens of millions of dollars, which they used to attack her on her abortion stance through television ads, with devastating effect, Cordes said in the memo.

Dixon’s stance against abortion rights, with no exceptions for rape or incest, received support from very few voters, according to the memo, and television ads used Dixon’s own words for the to understand. Those words “condemned not only her and the top of the ticket,” but efforts to oppose Proposition 3, which also enshrines the right to abortion in the state constitution, the memo says.

“Neither his campaign nor the party had the resources to push back.”

The reason?

“Donors mostly decided not to support the AG (Attorney General) and SOS (Secretary of State) nominees hand-picked by Trump at the April convention, and also withheld millions in investments in the state party, despite President (Ron) Weiser’s track record of contributions of more than $5 million to MIGOP, candidates and caucuses,” the memo reads.

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“In what many saw as sending a message to Donald Trump and his supporters, the Party’s longtime donors stayed away despite constant warnings of the possibility of the outcome we we saw come to fruition on Election Day: a statewide sweep and one-party Democratic rule in Lansing, something that hasn’t been seen in nearly 40 years in Michigan.”

The memo says that amid high Republican turnout, Dixon underperformed the base party vote by 8 percentage points. By comparison, former attorney general Bill Shuette, the 2018 GOP nominee who lost to Whitmer, underperformed the GOP base by just 3.9 percentage points.

“Tudor’s efforts have largely focused on Republican red meat issues, hoping to inspire a 2020-like appearance at the polls,” the memo reads. “There were more ads about transgender sports than inflation, gas prices, and bread-and-butter issues that might have swayed independent voters. We didn’t have a turnout problem – middle voters just didn’t like what Tudor was selling.

Dixon responded on Twitter, saying the problem was that state leaders refused “to take ownership of their own failures.”

Republicans nationwide are questioning Trump’s continued role as de facto national party leader after the GOP’s midterm performance fell far short of expectations.

The Michigan memo surfaced as state party leaders themselves come under fire following Tuesday’s election, in which Democrats were re-elected to the three main offices of the state while Democrats won a majority in both the House and Senate.

The party “had its worst election results in nearly 40 years,” former Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley said on Twitter on Thursday.

“State party leaders need to accept responsibility for this debacle; engage in some serious soul-searching; and consider stepping back. The Mich GOP needs party leaders that are less dogmatic and more pragmatic.”

Studley did not identify any state party leader by name. The Michigan Republican Party is led by Weiser, who is chairman, and Meshawn Maddock, who is co-chairman.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @paulegan

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