James backs Cox for Michigan GOP chair

By: - January 3, 2019 7:00 pm

Michigan Republican Chair Laura Cox | Andrew Roth

Former state Rep. Laura Cox (R-Livonia) has scored another big-time endorsement in her effort to become Michigan Republican Party chair: John James.

James, a GOP 2018 U.S. Senate candidate who fared better against incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) than many political observers expected, said Cox will reach out to young voters and people of color.

John James

“I’m excited to announce my support for Laura Cox as Michigan Republican Party Chair. The Michigan Republican Party chair needs to be a strong conservative who is forward-looking and thus willing to reach out to millennials and minorities while fighting for every single vote today,” he said in a statement. “Laura Cox will be that kind of Michigan Republican Party chair. She will work hard to win for Republicans and provide air support for candidates who are working hard on the ground. I am proud to endorse her.”

Current MRP Chair Ron Weiser, a former ambassador and current University of Michigan regent, is not running again. Like former Gov. Rick Snyder, he’s an Ann Arbor businessman.

Weiser previously served as chair from 2009 to 2011 and was succeeded by businessman Bobby Schostak. Weiser took over as MRP head from Ronna Romney McDaniel, who left the post to become Republican National Committee chair. Weiser is married to former state Board of Education member Eileen Weiser.

Cox, who was defeated last November by now-Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) for an open state Senate seat in Southeast Michigan, said she’s pleased to have James’ backing.

“John James is a dynamic leader and I am honored to have his support. Democrats are lining up to try and take the White House and win more seats, and we have to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work to win as Republicans. Together, we can win up and down the ticket in 2020!” Cox said in a statement.

Cox, who is married to former Attorney General Mike Cox, has landed some key endorsements from allies of President Donald Trump, including his 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and Scott Hagerstrom, Trump’s 2016 Michigan director. The Laura Cox for MRP Chair Facebook page features Trump in its cover photo.

She also has locked up a who’s who of GOP state and federal officeholders. The endorsement list includes U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Paul Mitchell (R-Commerce Twp.) and Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), who leaves office today. Cox also is supported by state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).

Tim Walberg

Some political observers suggested that James could have been a strong candidate for the chair. However, the Farmington Hills businessman and first-time political candidate stated last month that he wouldn’t vie for the post. Former House speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) has also declined to run. Some activists would like to see former Sen. Pat Colbeck (R-Canton) seek the post. The tea party favorite was defeated in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

Grand Rapids lawyer John Inhulsen, a former Kent County GOP chair, is considering a run for chair. Inhulsen told radio talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels on Nov. 28 that he thinks Cox would be a “fantastic chair,” but when asked whether a co-chair setup could work he said it’s “a possibility.”

“We’re really fortunate in Michigan to have, I think, multiple people who would serve the party and lead it very well,” he said.

GOP activist Gina Barr also is running for MRP chair, the Detroit News reported last month.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.