Michigan is seen as a swing state but recently in both the 2020 presidential election and the 2022 mid-terms, the state has swung Democratic.
Across Michigan, which Trump lost by 2.8 points, voters have overwhelmingly rejected election denialism and embraced measures to expand voting access. Proposition 2, a ballot measure that established early voting and expanded absentee voting passed by 60%. Secretary of state Jocelyn Benson won her seat in a definitive race against Kristina Karamo, who spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, and voters in the state elected Dana Nessel as attorney general over Matthew DePerno, who led multiple unsuccessful legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election in Michigan.
But things were quite different in Hillsdale county, which remained a Republican stronghold in which “Karamo earned 66% of the vote and DePerno swept, nearly earning 70% of Hillsdale county voters in his election.” This county is also the home of Hillsdale College, a prominent conservative Christian college. (I was invited there during the height of the Intelligent Design controversy to debate ID proponents.)
The county was also a hotbed of election denialism with the township clerk Stephanie Scott engaging in all manner of shenanigans in support of the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump. This was too much for the Michigan Bureau of Elections who stripped her of her election overseeing duties.
Elected in Adams Township in 2020, Stephanie Scott, who ran unopposed, has spent her years as a clerk – a position that would typically oversee township elections – mostly removed from the electoral process. After she refused to turn over a voting machine for regular maintenance in 2021, allegedly shared confidential voter data with a third-party IT analyst, and spread lies about election-rigging, the Michigan Bureau of Elections removed Scott’s power to administer elections.
Subsequently a recall petition was initiated against Scott and her ally, township supervisor Mark Nichols. The vote was held yesterday and both of them lost.
In a rebuke to election denialism and extremism, a small, heavily Republican township in Michigan successfully recalled a clerk who has been accused of elevating election denialism and her ally on the township board. The outgoing clerk, Stephanie Scott, and township supervisor Mark Nichols were replaced by Suzy Roberts, a retired auto industry worker and Randy Johnson, who works in the local school district, respectively.
In Adams Township, residents say the conspiracy theories and political upheaval tore at the fabric of the community. Johnson, who was elected to replace Nichols as a township supervisor, says the recall is only the first step in restoring trust in the electoral process within the divided town. “Monday night is our first board meeting that we’ll be running. We expect it to be a circus,” he said. In the long run, he said he thought that “the nonsense will go away with those two being gone.”
This was something I did not expect in such a Republican area. It should be noted that Scott’s replacement Suzy Roberts is also a Republican but one who was fed up with what the extremists were doing.
Scott will be replaced by Suzy Roberts, a retiree who spent most of her career in the auto industry and has worked as a poll worker. Although Roberts has historically voted Republican, she is running as an independent, as required by the rules guiding recall elections.
“This election is between a giant lie that has taken over our township meetings, versus people who want to make lying wrong again,” said Roberts.
It is in such rural areas that Republican extremists have managed to gain a foothold, as can be seen in what happened just after the 2020 election, when the extremists pushed out lifelong Republicans who did not go along with them, such as local documentarian Penny Swan.
But after the 2020 presidential election, politics in rural and deep red Hillsdale county soured. A faction of hard-right party members within the county Republican party took control of the party, renouncing more than 60 local GOP delegates who did not share their political vision and rallying around false claims that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. In December, 2022, Swan logged on to Facebook and announced her hiatus from some political activities, including filming city council meetings in Hillsdale.
Her frustrations followed a split within the county GOP into factions: one that calls itself the “America First” Republican party of Hillsdale, and another that largely disavows the election lies.
At an 11 August 2022 county GOP convention, members of the so-called America First faction disavowed more than 60 members of the party. Armed guards blocked the members from accessing the meeting. Fourteen days later, members who had been disavowed and their allies elected a new slate of leadership and claimed sole legitimacy as the Hillsdale county Republican executive committee.
For months, the warring factions have met separately, vying for legal recognition and sending separate slates of delegates to the state Republican party convention in February 2023. On 28 April, a circuit court judge ruled that the disavowals were improper and recognized subsequent meetings held by the executive committee as “valid”.
Residents say the split in the Republican party has spilled over into the wider Hillsdale county community, breaking up friendships and sowing mistrust among neighbors.
“All of the election fraud screaming and hollering I was behind at first, because I felt the same way,” said Tim Martin, a Hillsdale county resident who supported Trump in 2020. “But when you can’t produce proof of what you’re saying, you’re looking like a liar.”
This is just one small rural county. If it is beginning to dawn on people in places like this that they have been sold a bill of goods by Trump and his fanatical followers, it does not augur well for the MAGAts nationally.
One thing I’ve always had a grudging admiration for is the Right’s unity. They snipe and bully and threaten each other when they’re in power, but if they’re not, or if they are and there’s an election brewing, they shut the fuck up and knuckle down to making sure they WIN. They pull together, even with people they’d cross the street to avoid. The Left could learn a lot from this, and indeed did in the UK in the mid 90s which led to ten good years of progressive achievement, most of which has since been undone.
But it looks like that unity is going away. The non-nutjobs on the right sound like they’ve had it with the idiots. That can only be good, because it can only hurt their chances of power.
I suspect that many of the not-so-maga-republicans are primarily upset that the magas are saying the quiet parts out loud. They’re not going to support abortion as health care, for example. They just want the magas to shut up about pushing for a federal abortion ban because they know that doesn’t sit well with the majority of Americans, and they don’t want to get thrown out with the magas in the next election.
TGAP Dad says
I live in Michigan, and want to point out the most pertinent fact of the state’s recent partisan swing, that is overlooked by every single media outlet to date -- the citizens’ redistricting commission, mandated by overwhelming passage of proposal 2 in 2018. This, after surviving a flurry of lawsuits by the GOP, handed over the task of redistricting to an independent commission comprised of citizen applicants chosen at random, and selected to fill a partisan or independent seat. The impact was felt almost immediately after the 2022 midterms, when the new districts’ representatives and senators were chosen. Both houses of the state legislature immediately swung to democratic control, and with a democratic governor, passed a repeal of right-to-work legislation and added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Constitutional amendments to enshrine reproductive rights, as well as more electoral reforms were also passed by popular referendum.
The Republican party, who often can win only by “cheating”.
TGAP Dad says
That’s a slight mischaracterization of my point, which was that the media seem to be overlooking the Michigan redistricting reform’s role in the state’s swing in control, rather than a super-dramatic backlash. There’s also a lot more to it. The GOP took advantage of Clinton’s engineered bad press to pass a term limit referendum which first applied in the 1998 election cycle, where a large number of democratic lawmakers would be term limited. They then used that paper thin contralto gerrymander for the 2002 cycle, and hyper gerrymander for the 2012 cycle. The backlash -- proposal 2 (redistricting reform), proposal 3 (election reform) -- cannabis legalization, and others -- were a result of the dramatic overreach of the GOP majority, with an assist by the misdeeds of the Snyder administration (Flint lead scandal, and racism-motivated abuse of emergency financial managers). And oh yeah -- in 2022, we passed a reproductive rights amendment to the state constitution. Michigan is one of the few states where you can amend the constitution any citizen referendum, which has served us well the past 5 years.