Time for someone to take on Trump, Michigan Senate GOP leader says

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican from Jackson County, criticized Donald Trump during an interview on a Jackson-area TV show Monday, arguing in favor of someone challenging the former president for the GOP nomination in 2024.

Trump, who lost the presidential race to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020, launched another campaign for the White House on Tuesday night, a week after Republicans in Michigan suffered historic losses at the ballot box in the midterm election.

Asked about Trump’s looming announcement, Shirkey said it was time “we just take it on.”

“It’s a free country. Go ahead and run, Mr. President. It’s your right,” Shirkey said. “But you’re not going to make it, because we’re going to put somebody up that better represents the country now, today.”

Shirkey made the comments during an appearance on Jackson TV’s “The Bart Hawley Show.”

Shirkey and Trump have repeatedly clashed since the 2020 election. Trump and some of his supporters pressured the Republicans who controlled the state Legislature to intervene in Michigan’s results — Trump lost to Biden by 154,000 votes — but Shirkey and then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, refused.

In June 2021, Michigan Senate Republicans released a report that upheld the election’s outcome, saying they found no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election. Trump blasted their findings. The former president told his supporters to call Shirkey and Senate Oversight Chairman Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and “get them to do the right thing or vote them the hell out of office.”

McBroom was re-elected last Tuesday to another four-year term in the state Senate, winning 62% of the vote in his Upper Peninsula district. Shirkey is term-limited and leaving office at year’s end.

Trump endorsed the three Republican candidates who were at the top of the GOP ticket in Michigan’s midterm election. Gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon lost to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by more than 10 percentage points. Matt DePerno was defeated by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel by nearly 9 points. And Kristina Karamo was beaten by Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson by 14 points.

Meanwhile, Democrats won majorities in the state House and Senate for the time in 40 years.

During his Monday interview, Shirkey said Trump was “pretty aggressive” in endorsing candidates but didn’t spend money supporting them. Likewise, the Senate leader said some of Trump’s most vocal supporters will jettison people if they “don’t align exactly with everything that they believe in.”

“I am not going to diss President Trump,” Shirkey said. “I’m not going to do that. I just think he’s starting to prove that his true colors are more aligned with his interests, rather than global interests. And those who support him, I think, manifest the same thing.”

At one point in the exchange, Shirkey joked that someone would send a clip of the interview to Trump.

In January 2021, Trump’s campaign encouraged his supporters to call Shirkey and Chatfield, on their cellphone numbers in a bid to question Michigan’s election results. Shirkey eventually changed his personal cellphone number.

“I hope he doesn’t have my current cellphone number,” the Senate leader said Monday.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, suggested on Tuesday that Republicans’ hands were somewhat tied because of the support for Trump among the party’s base when asked whether Trump should be the face of the GOP going forward.

“I don’t think we have much of a choice. He’s if he runs, there’s a high likelihood that he’ll be the nominee just because of the base that supports him so strongly — even a base that says, ‘We’re tired of some of the personality issues, but we love this policy,’’’ Walberg said in an interview with The Detroit News.

Some Republicans want to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis challenge the former one-term president.

“So while we could vote for DeSantis or we could vote for several others, if Trump were in the race, I personally think that they’ll end up being the nominee,” Walberg said.

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