LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Republican Party ousted its grassroots leader from her elected position on Monday for her refusal to back Donald Trump in the presidential election.
Wendy Day, the grassroots vice chairwoman, was removed under a party bylaw that empowers Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel to declare vacant the seat of any officer who declines to support a Republican nominee. The rule had never been invoked before Monday, spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said.
McDaniel, in a letter to the GOP’s 113-member state committee, said all 12 officers have a duty to support Republican nominees.
“Officers are held to a different standard because ‘Michigan Republican Party’ is part of their title, and when they speak, they are reflecting the party as a whole,” she said.
On Saturday, committee member Matt Hall had asked McDaniel to remove Day, saying she used her position as a “bully pulpit” to voice her opposition to Trump, most recently during an appearance on Fox 2’s (WJBK-TV) political show. McDaniel asked Day to either declare her support for Trump or resign.
Day, a tea party leader from Howell who served as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s Michigan director during the GOP primary, refused to resign in an email to McDaniel and committee members earlier Monday. She said she cannot back Trump as “a matter of conscience. While some may say that I am not supporting the party, that is simply not true. In fact, in looking long term, I am doing my best to try to protect what the party has stood for.”
She said the party believes in freedom and the Constitution, and that “women should be cherished and that morality and character matter.”
“We have never had an election like this,” Day wrote. “Those who say that the normal rules don’t apply to this election are correct.”
Day said she would not support Democrat Hillary Clinton, either.
McDaniel said Day could have remained silent while working for other Republicans on the ballot, but her appearance on the most recent “Let It Rip” show “gives the impression that the party does not support our nominee.” Day told panelists that neither Trump nor Clinton is fit for office and “whoever wins, we probably need an all-male staff in the White House because between Bill (Clinton) and Donald, there’s a lot of potential for trouble.”
The crack in GOP unity is not unique to Michigan.
Over the weekend, Trump’s campaign severed ties with Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, who had been openly critical of Trump on several occasions and told some news outlets he was not sure if he would vote for Trump.
Alaska’s two U.S. senators this month resigned honorary posts in the state Republican party after denouncing Trump and saying he should step aside. Party officers there are also expected to back party candidates.
In Michigan, top Republicans have condemned Trump’s comments — including those in a 2005 recording in which he made crude remarks about women — but many still support him. Notable exceptions include Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Justin Amash of Kent County’s Cascade Township.