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On Saturday evening, University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser (R) was elected as chair of the Michigan Republican Party, winning more than 66% of the vote during the Michigan GOP virtual convention. This will be Weiser’s third non-consecutive term as chairman after he stepped down in 2019 due to health issues.

Weiser’s co-chair is Meshawn Maddock, a 2020 state presidential elector who was at the center of the campaign to overturn Michigan’s results of the 2020 presidential election. Maddock has recently been criticized for her participation and response to pro-Trump extremists storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

The pair was nominated by U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., who said Weiser “is best suited to lead us and unify us.” 

Weiser released a statement after his victory, explaining his focus is on helping Michigan and strengthening the party prior to the 2022 midterm elections.

“The skirmishes of yesterday are over,” Weiser wrote. “Our focus now rests on the great challenges before us: Rebuilding our party … We are unified by a common goal, a vital aspiration to improve our lives, our state and our nation. Our focus now rests on the great challenges before us: rebuilding our party … We have a tremendous plan. And we will win in 2022.”

Cox released a statement on Twitter after the convention saying she will continue working with the party. 

“It has been an honor to serve as @MIGOP Chairman these last two years,” Cox wrote. “While I’m no longer leading the party, I will NEVER stop fighting for our conservative principles and what we stand for.” 

Weiser’s election takes place two days after now former Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox — Weiser’s opponent for the position — alleged Weiser made an undisclosed payment of $200,000 from the Michigan Republican Party’s administrative account to a former Secretary of State candidate in 2018 in hopes he would withdraw his candidacy. 

It also comes after Weiser has faced backlash from the U-M community over his initial response to the attempted insurrection and due to emails he sent to the Board of Regents and University President Mark Schlissel in which he requested their public support and asked them to remember the silence of “Germany in the 1930s.” 

After releasing her statement accusing Weiser of brokering the “secret deal” on Thursday, Cox retracted her previous statement that she would not be seeking re-election, asking GOP delegates to re-elect her as temporary chairwoman. Prior to her announcement, Weiser had been the presumptive winner. Cox told delegates that, if elected, she would step down in April so they could choose a new chair. 

During the virtual voting event, Delegate Michelle Frederick nominated Cox. 

“We need honest people who will lead with integrity and who will unite our party,” Frederick said of Cox. 

In a statement released on Twitter Thursday, Weiser denied the allegations of the “secret deal,” stating the timing of the accusations means they were politically motivated.

“Laura Cox’s baseless allegations are a desperate attempt to smear my name, based on a longstanding political grudge, and her inability to hold onto the job of party chair that she could not keep on her own merits,” Weiser wrote. “I’m disappointed by Laura’s shameful attempt to destroy our party with unfounded and reckless conspiracy theories so that she can get back in the chair’s race and save her paycheck.”

Weiser also said the allegations were reviewed by former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. and various legal experts who all agreed there were no legal violations. The attorney who wrote the 14-page report included in Cox’s email to party activists also specified he did not reach any definitive conclusions on the nature of the payments. 

LSA junior Ryan Fisher, chair of the U-M chapter of College Republicans, said the group thinks Weiser will do well in the position. 

“We really like Regent Weiser and we believe he will do a great job as MI GOP Chair as Republicans retool in preparation for 2022,” Fisher wrote. 

Other Michigan GOP leadership positions were also filled during the convention, including youth vice-chair, coalitions vice-chair, grassroots vice-chair and administrative vice-chair. 

Daily Staff Reporter Kate Weiland can be reached at kmwblue@umich.edu

*correction: A previous version of this article stated the wrong date Ron Weiser stepped down due to health issues. 

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