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Michigan GOP releases candidates for state party chair

The Michigan Republican Party announced the potential candidates for state party chair ahead of the state convention in February
Michigan Republican Party Logo
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 09, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan GOP has announced the candidates who have successfully completed all the requirements to be eligible to run for the Republican state party chair position.

The position, currently held by Ron Weiser with Mashawn Maddock as co-chair, will aid the state Republican Party in navigating the next election cycle. The chair will serve as the face of the Michigan GOP in the coming years.

The voting for state chair will take place during the Republican state convention, which takes place Feb. 17-18 in Lansing. As of today, 11 candidates are in the running:

Scott Aughney
During the 2022 primaries, Scott Aughneylost the Republican nomination for a seat on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Aughney served as a representative for recount observers with the Election Intergirity Fund and Force during the ballot recount of Proposal 2 and Proposal 3. Aughney then threatened to file a criminal complaint against a Bureau of Elections specialist over the recount procedures.

Kent Boersema
During the 2022 election, Kent Boersema was elected to serve as a trustee for the village of Ravenna's Village Council. Boersema has picked Orlando Estrada as his running mate for co-chair.

Drew Born
Drew Born has yet to run for elected office or hold any leadership positions within the Michigan GOP.

Matt DePerno
Matt DePerno ran for attorney general during the 2022 election and lost to Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel. Backed by former President Donald Trump, DePerno is the lawyer behind a lawsuit in Antrim County that spread conspiracy theories about voting machines in the 2020 election. He is also currently under investigation by a special prosecutor for allegedly orchestrating an effort to gain unauthorized access to voting machines after the 2020 election. DePerno has selected Garrett Soldano as his running mate for co-chair. Soldano lost his bid for the Republican nomination for governor during the 2022 election primaries.

Lena Epstein
During the 2022 midterm election, Lena Epstein lost her bid to serve on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. During the 2018 election, she lost her congressional race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens in a largely Republican-leaning district. Epstein has received the backing of Rudy Giuliani ahead of the Michigan GOP endorsement convention.

Michael Farage
Kent County GOP activist Michael Farage has led local groups including the Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association and a group that supported Trump during his 2020 election bid. Farage lost his bids for local offices, including school board and city commission positions in Grand Rapids.

Mark Forton
While vying for the Michigan GOP chair position, Mark Forton faces a leadership battle amid the Macomb County GOP. Forton claims to be chair of the county party, and the county party's website lists him as so, but the Michigan GOP website lists Eric Castiligia as chair. Forton was ousted from his position in 2022 after a Republican county convention was held and Forton criticized many GOP candidates for not investigating the 2020 election enough.

JD Glaser
The Republican from Cass County presented on the technical aspects of vote tabulation at the Kalamazoo County Republican Party's headquarters following the 2020 election, where he alleged, without evidence, that 55,000 votes were switched from Trump to Biden in Kalamazoo County.

Scott Greenlee
Political consultant and president of the Lansing-based Greenlee Consulting firm, Scott Greenlee has worked on numerous Republican campaigns. Greenlee previously served as an aide to former GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette and has held party leadership positions at county and state levels, serving as the finance chair of the Kent County GOP.

Kristina Karamo
Losing her bid for secretary of state to incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson, Kristina Karamo was a Trump-endorsed candidate during the 2022 election. Karamo rose to prominence after she falsely claimed election fraud during the 2020 election, and contributed to legal efforts to delay the certification of the election and overturn the results. Karamo has picked Melinda Pego as her running mate for co-chair. Pego currently serves as the vice-chair of the Muskegon County Republican Party.

Billy Putman
Serving as the Tuscola County Republican Party chair, Billy Putman has put his hat in the ring for state GOP chair. Putman has picked Sandy Kiesel as his running mate for co-chair. Kielsel currenty serves as the executive director of Election Integrity Fund and Force. The group filed a lawsuit to decertify the 2020 election results, participated in legal efforts to target Detroit voters ahead of the midterm election and backed the recent recount of ballot proposals 2 and 3.

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