91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New leader of Michigan GOP has her work cut out for her

Michigan Republicans held their winter convention this weekend in Lansing and elected Ronna Romney McDaniel as their new chair.

McDaniel has quite the Republican pedigree.  She is the niece of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, granddaughter of Michigan Governor George Romney. 

Her mother and namesake, Ronna Romney, is a former Republican National Committeewoman, and U.S. Senate candidate.

McDaniel comes to the job with the mission of bridging the divide between what’s commonly called the “establishment” Republicans and the “tea party” or “liberty wing” of the party.

“We have a lot of different factions within our party. We need to get them to coalesce if we’re going to be successful in 2016,” McDaniel explained on Saturday.

For Michigan Republicans, the hope is to avert the fate they’ve suffered in the last six presidential elections. Michigan has gone for the Democratic nominee in every presidential cycle since George Herbert Walker Bush won the state in 1988.

Since then, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama have all won Michigan, with President Obama beating McDaniel’s Uncle Mitt Romney in 2012.

McDaniel wants to change that.  “My intention is to have Michigan in play, presidentially, in 2016. That’s a hard task. And it’s gonna take a lot of work.”

But, just because Republicans agree they want to win the White House next year does not, of course, mean they agree on how to win, or exactly what their party stands for.

Now, this convention was not the Wild West shows we’ve seen other Republican conventions become. But there was certainly some strife evident as Republicans chose their party officers for the next two years.

Three congressional district party chairs were toppled by Tea Party or “liberty” challengers. The Tea Party also expanded its presence on the Republican state central committee, although still not a majority.  That matters as it makes it a lot less likely that Rand Paul supporters can get the GOP to drop out of the March 8th open presidential primary.

To drop out of the open primary in favor of something – a caucus, for example - would more likely benefit a non-establishment candidate.  

But, certainly, its proof that Romney McDaniel has some work to do if she’s going to stitch together the Republican coalition so it stays together after a contentious primary season.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Related Content