Trump loyalists seek to cancel the leader of the state GOP

OPINION

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Don’t call them protesters and don’t say there’s a   fracture in the Michigan Republican Party.

The organizer of a band of Republicans who want MRP’s chairman, Ron Weiser, to toss his executive director, Jason Roe, for not singing out of the Donald Trump hymnal that the 2020 election was “stolen” doesn’t want there to be any confusion.

The Trump loyalists aren’t “attacking” the leadership of the party. That may be what the media may want you to think, said Republican organizer Debra Ell.

So, here’s where the reader can pick their own descriptive. What would you call this?

Ell and a few dozen Republican activists turned over a purported more than 500 precinct delegate signatures supporting Roe’s removal for pushing aside 2020 election fraud claims and “blaming our Republican president” for his loss.

Back in November, Roe told Politico, “The unfortunate reality within the party today is that Trump retains a hold that is forcing party leaders to continue down the path of executing this fantasy of overturning the outcome — at their own expense.

“Frankly, continuing to humor him merely excuses his role in this. The election wasn’t stolen, he blew it,” Roe added.

Roe was not the MRP executive director at the time, but he reiterated on the “MIRS Monday” podcast last week that the election is “settled. There’s nothing we can do about what happened in the rearview mirror. We got to look through the windshield and further down the road on what we can do about 2022.”

Ell said this resolution shouldn’t be viewed as an “attack against the Republican Party, because we’d be attacking ourselves, right?” 

Instead, she defined the presentation in front of the MRP headquarters in downtown Lansing — marked with candidate speeches, a trailer selling Trump paraphernalia and a small raffle among attendees — as a “movement.”

The movement may be rolling along in place like Ohio, where the state Republican Party censured U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez for voting to impeach Trump. But the upper brass at the MRP has been able to avoid this type of open intraparty hostility.

The Michigan Republicans’ state committee meeting declined this month to take up any similar resolutions against Republican U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, of St. Joseph, and Peter Meijer, of Grand Rapids, for basically doing the same thing.

As a staffer, Roe is an at-will hire of Weiser,  and Weiser is sticking with him. Roe, the son of the late longtime former MRP Executive Director Jerry Roe, has been working for GOP candidates since 1994. 

He’s held numerous posts, the most recent being national media spokesman for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio in 2016. He was a deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney in 2007.

In short, he’s not going anywhere. Roe is seen as a seasoned winner who can help deliver the state for Republicans.

And with Trump grassroots darling Meshawn Maddock as the GOP’s cochairwoman, it’s hard to argue that the leadership doesn’t represent the pro-Trump contingent. Still, there are certainly tensions within the party.

First, the MRP’s legal team sent Ell a letter after she and a former Republican staffer were in the headquarters parking lot Sunday scoping things out in advance of today’s event.

Also, a few participants needed to use the bathroom during the morning event and were denied access to the Secchia-Weiser Republican Center by the staff.

The four political candidates giving their elevator speeches under a portable tent set up in the corner of the Seymour Avenue parking lot were unquestionably on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

Among them was the former Dominion software worker Mellissa Carone, whose testimony to a House committee last winter was mimicked on “Saturday Night Live.”

“We have an unelected official by the name of Jason Roe and, you know what? He shouldn’t be there. He doesn’t represent the people,” said Jon Rocha, who is challenging Upton in the 6th District.

If these folks aren’t protesting or attacking the leadership, would it be fair to call this a “food fight?”

(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at melinnky@gmail.com.)

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