Michigan Republicans remain obsessed with Donald Trump's election loss in the state, which many of them insist was fraudulent despite all evidence to the contrary, and that could cost them in next year's election.
The party is split between pro-Trump factions pushing for election audits to undo the former president's loss in 2020 and other Republicans who worry that those efforts will scare away voters and political professionals as the party looks to unseat Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, reported Politico.
"From a staff and leadership perspective, I don't know that top-notch professionals would want to go into this quagmire," said former Michigan GOP executive director Jeff Timmer, a Trump critic. "Unless you're going to talk crazy talk, they don't want you there."
Trump lost the state by more than 150,000 votes last year, but some party officials and conservative activists are pushing for an Arizona-style "forensic analysis" to uncover fraud that the state's Bureau of Elections did not find in its own audits, and the GOP-led Senate Oversight Committee could not find any evidence of that, either.
"The election wasn't stolen," said Jason Roe, who resigned this month as the state GOP's executive director. "[Trump] blew it."
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who previously served as Michigan GOP chair, is confident in the state party's chances to win the gubernatorial election and other races, but many Republicans are nervous that infighting and finger-pointing over Trump's loss will take the focus off next year.
"We're not focused on 2022, and I don't see that changing," Jason Watts, a former Allegan County GOP official who was pushed out as Sixth District treasurer after admitting he didn't vote for Trump last year. "Until we get beyond that, we're going to suffer the consequences and lose in the next couple of cycles because we just can't get off this circular firing squad of remorse, and somehow feeling that the other side cheated, when the evidence doesn't show that at all."
"It's a near-toxic environment," Watts added, "and I don't think you see any signs of that dissipating."