Advance Notice: Briefs

Cox taps union activist Bowman for GOP co-chair

By: - January 8, 2019 5:43 pm

Laura Cox, the leading candidate to be the next Michigan Republican Party chair, has tapped Terry Bowman to be her co-chair, according to an email blast sent out to supporters on Tuesday morning.

Chair Ron Weiser, a former ambassador and current University of Michigan regent, announced he is not seeking re-election this year.

GOP activist Gina Barr is also running for replace Weiser. Her running mate is John Akouri, president and CEO of the Lebanese-American Chamber of Commerce, who President Trump reportedly had considered as ambassador to Lebanon. 

Bowman, a former UAW member and long-time Republican activist, mounted an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2014 in the open 12th District seat, losing to now-U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn). He served as a statewide co-chair for Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In the email to supporters, Cox noted Bowman’s work on implementing the state’s Right to Work law and said that he “has testified for workers’ rights across the nation and has been a great Republican grassroots leader and has been a great grassroots Republican leader.”

In a September opinion column for the Detroit News, Bowman wrote about the ongoing investigation into the UAW’s misuse of funds and how it highlights the need for reforming unions in the state.

“This scandal is personal for me,” Bowman wrote. “As a 22-year Ford-UAW autoworker, I was for years forced to pay dues to the UAW or get fired. After my home state of Michigan became a ‘right to work’ state in 2012, I was finally able in 2015 to stop supporting a union that does not represent my interests. Unfortunately, I’m still forced to accept this problematic union representation as a condition of employment.”

Cox, a former state representative from Livonia, lost her election last year in an open state Senate seat to now-Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Canton). Last week, Cox received the endorsement of John James, a Farmington Hills businessman who unsuccessfully ran to unseat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) in 2018. She’s also been endorsed by Trump 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and Scott Hagerstrom, Trump’s 2016 Michigan director.

In a Monday night tweet announcing Bowman as her prospective MRP co-chair, Cox said that the two of them would seek to take a ‘big tent’ perspective to making the state’s Republican party more competitive in the next election cycle.

On the Democratic side, Lavora Barnes, the current chief operating officer of the Michigan Democratic Party, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Chair Brandon Dillon, who is leaving the post. Barnes has racked up high-profile endorsements from Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Other Democrats seeking the top job are MD Alam, Patrick Biange, Greg Bowens, Lisa DiRado, Rochell Kirby and Nancy Quarles, per the MDP.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.