McDaniel told RNC officials she has considered bid for Michigan governor

Greg Nash

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel told party members recently that she has considered challenging Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in 2022, according to a person familiar with her remarks.

McDaniel briefly floated the idea of a gubernatorial bid during a meeting with RNC members in Dallas. Her comments were first reported on Thursday by Politico

It’s unclear how recent her considerations are or how seriously she’s looking at the race. In an interview with a Michigan radio show earlier this year, she played down the possibility of a gubernatorial bid, but promised that she would be involved in the race.

“I just signed on to be Republican National Committee chair for another two years, so I’m not looking to run for governor of Michigan,” she said. “But I will definitely be involved in that race, because I do think we need a new governor.”

Whitmer, a Democrat who was first elected to the governor’s mansion in 2018, has emerged as a top target for Republicans, many of whom have expressed outrage at Michigan’s coronavirus-related restrictions. 

She’s faced mounting criticism in recent days over revelations that she traveled to Florida to visit her ailing father. It’s unclear exactly when Whitmer made the trip, but critics have accused her of flouting her own administration’s advice to residents against traveling amid the pandemic.

A handful of Michigan Republicans are seen as potential challengers to Whitmer in 2022, including John James, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2018 and 2020. 

But if she runs, McDaniel would enter the race with several advantages. She is a close ally of former President Trump and has developed deep ties to top Republican donors and operatives during her tenure as RNC chair that would almost certainly come in handy in a potential gubernatorial campaign. 

Prior to becoming RNC chair in 2017, McDaniel helmed the Michigan Republican Party. 

She also comes from a long line of GOP politicians. Her grandfather George Romney served as governor of Michigan from 1963 until 1969, while her mother ran for Senate in Michigan in 1994 and 1996. McDaniel is the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

For McDaniel, mounting a Senate campaign would likely mean stepping down from her post at the RNC. If she did, her co-chair Tommy Hicks would replace her in a temporary capacity.

Tags 2022 midterms Donald Trump Gretchen Whitmer Michigan gubernatorial race Michigan politics Mitt Romney Ronna McDaniel

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