UPDATE: Wendy Day was removed from her GOP position Monday night by party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel.
Did you hear about Wendy Day? She is a GOP official under fire within the Michigan Republican Party, especially from critics who want her booted out of the party.
What did she do? Well, she didn’t claim that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the past. She didn’t assert that Trump is unfit for the presidency. And she didn’t say that the bombastic billionaire is an all-around embarrassing nominee for the GOP.
What she did was declare publicly that she cannot vote for Trump.
The amazing aspect of this story is that this is the same state party which has failed to take any action in the past three years when faced with the fact that certain GOP officials have glaring criminal records or have engaged in outright hostility toward the MIGOP from within, even issuing a call for top officials to be forced out.
Day, of Howell, served as a leader of the Ted Cruz campaign in Michigan throughout the 2016 presidential primaries and has made it clear in Facebook posts that she does not support Trump.
But, unlike Cruz, she is sticking to her principles and continues to say she cannot endorse the nominee. For that bit of disloyalty to the party — the same kind of dissent that’s become rampant in GOP circles across the nation – a move is afoot to humiliate Day and oust her from her position as the GOP grassroots vice chair.
In a letter to MIGOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel sent over the weekend, Republican activist Matt Hall made the case that Day must go: “We have a duty, as party officers, to support the nominees the voters have chosen. If at any time we are unable to support the nominees within our party, one can choose to resign and forego this important role in party leadership.”
As of now, Romney McDaniel is taking no action. That fits the pattern, but in a disturbing manner.
Ex-cons are welcome
Let’s consider Darwin Jiles. At the age of 29, political newcomer Jiles was elected GOP vice chair for minority outreach. That show of support came in February 2015 at the Republican state convention though Jiles has two violent gun crimes on his record.
In the first case, Jiles faced four charges, including two felonies for attempted murder. He copped a plea and served 2 ½ years in juvenile detention facilities. In the second incident, Jiles shot and seriously injured a man. He again faced felony charges but they were lowered to a misdemeanor and he received one year of probation.
Some of this information came out before the convention vote; some after. One of the party elders, the late Paul Welday of Oakland County, was stunned by the election of Jiles: “Disgraceful and shocking,” Welday tweeted. “May be the most inappropriate candidate ever.”
Yet, the party loyalists remained mum.
|If party loyalty, not criminal activity, is the overriding issue in 2016, Jiles is also guilty on that account. In September 2015, just several months after winning the vice chair post, Jiles, of Oakland Township, let loose with a vicious attack on Romney McDaniel, comparing her to Hillary Clinton and calling her the most “incompetent, unethical, immoral and special interest-backed” chair the state party has ever known.|
|He added that Romney McDaniel, a niece of the 2012 presidential candidate, was leading “an evil agenda of power” that was designed to create a “Romney family political cartel” that will cater strictly to the “political and wealthy elite.”|
The response? Nothing.
The biggest crook
Of course, Jiles is far from the biggest crook to be exposed in the very recent history of the MIGOP.
William Rauwerdink of West Bloomfield Township was a GOP State Committee member seeking re-election at that same February 2015 convention when Jiles emerged. Rauwerdink quietly bowed out from seeking another term when it was revealed that, after facing a 16-count federal criminal indictment for cooking the books at Troy-based Lason Inc., Rauwerdink pleaded guilty in 2007 to several felony fraud charges, served nearly four years in prison, and was ordered to pay $285 million in restitution to a long list of victims.
Again it was Welday, the grown-up in the party, who said he and other GOP veterans were “shell-shocked” by Rauwerink’s secret white-collar criminal past and were ashamed that he ever played a role in the party.
The MIGOP leaders in Lansing tacitly let the scandal slide, hoping it would fade away.
Yet, after Rauwerdink quietly surrendered his bid for a continued State Committee seat he quickly latched onto the 14th Congressional District GOP in his home territory. He now holds five positions in the party at the district and Oakland County level. But he’s a big Trump supporter, so I guess he gets a pass.
Other GOP bad boys who escaped party enforcement in the past three years have included the infamous former Republican National Committee representative from Michigan, Dave Agema, who engaged in bigoted tirades on Facebook that go beyond anything Trump has said or implied.
Then there was Doug Sedenquist, a State Committee member and Delta County GOP vice chair in the U.P., a Tea Partier who gleefully offered crude criticisms of the party establishment. That was until he was found guilty of terrorizing his ex-wife after holding Wisconsin police at bay while armed with a rifle. After initially facing four felony charges he is serving three years in prison.
Judge says: ‘lack of good moral character’
Finally, we have “Trucker Randy” Bishop, one of Sedenquist’s best buddies, who remains as the Antrim County GOP chair (and an ex-officio State Committee member) despite being exposed as a
two-time felon during his days in Macomb County.
In Macomb, Bishop declared bankruptcy, lost his builder’s license, was accused of not paying his federal and state taxes and, after fraudulently claiming in writing that he had never been convicted of a felony, lost his real estate broker’s license in 2001.
A judge declared that Trucker Randy’s fraudulent behavior “illustrates his inability to serve the
public in an open and honest manner — and his lack of good moral character.”
Yet, party big-wigs never made a move to sanction him, even after he declared war on the MIGOP in August 2013 and said on his northern Michigan radio show that it was time for Michigan “patriots” to seize control of the state party.
So, after all this, Day must be shaking her head in dismay – or disgust, or disbelief.
In a letter to Romney McDaniel sent this afternoon, Day outlined her history of support for the MIGOP and she added this:
“This year, however, I am unable to endorse our Republican presidential candidate. I certainly cannot support Hillary Clinton either. This simply is a matter of conscience. While some may say that I am not supporting the party, that is simply not true. In fact, in looking long term, I am doing my best to try to protect what the party has stood for.”
What happens next is impossible to predict in this topsy-turvy election year. But those who want to punish all Republican activists who shun Trump should know that polls show only about 75% of GOP voters express allegiance to the nominee, a dangerously low level for Trump this close to Election Day.
Some Trump loyalists may want to raise up pitchforks and torches and invade the Michigan countryside rounding up those 25% in opposition. That would certainly amount to the Trumpian way of doing things.
But I suspect most mature, even-keeled Michigan Republicans would be well beyond shell-shocked at such an anti-democratic, anti-Republican move.