Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

56 MI Candidates Using Trump's 'America First' Platform In Campaign

06/27/22 06:08 PM By John Reurink

(Source: MIRS.news, Published 06/24/2022) Larry Hull stood outside the boundary fence of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and saw what happened that afternoon this way: President Donald Trump supporters were urged into the Capitol by provocateurs and arrested by on-site undercover federal agents as a way to discredit the President.


He said the Capitol police were only at partial strength. Not only did police not serve as a deterrent, some actually motioned people to come closer.


As for why Trump lost on Nov. 3, 2020, Hull wrote in a questionnaire provided by “Michigan Republican America First ” that when Trump votes were coming in better than expected, six battleground states quit recording their votes.


"(It) gave the thieves a chance to manufacture and insert more fraudulent votes," Hull wrote. "In Michigan, total illegal and fraud."


Hull is the chair of the Election Integrity Subcommittee of the Cheboygan County Republican Party and a candidate in the Northern Michigan's 106th House District.


He is among the 56 Michigan candidates for Congress, the state Senate and the state House identified by MIRS through various sources and interviews who believe widespread election fraud cost Trump re-election or believe other tenants of Trump's "America First" agenda.


"America First" candidates subscribed to the basic philosophy that: widespread election fraud cost Trump the 2020 election. The Capitol attacks on Jan. 6 were instigated by bad actors who took advantage of the enthusiasm of Trump supporters to embarrass the President. America needs a heavy-tariffs, closed border agenda to make the United States great again.


There are likely more candidates outside of the 56.


Some, such as Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Marion Twp.), are supportive of the American First candidates or are running on similar themes. Some, like congressional candidate John James, U.S. Rep. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) and U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R) have Trump's endorsement, but are not making “America First” a cornerstone of their campaign. Others, like “Trucker” Randy Bishop in the 37th Senate District or Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland) in 35th Senate District the have been enthusiastically supportive of the President in the past, but are not focusing on “America First” in their literature.


Even among the 56 who are mentioning it, their level of support for the President varies. Some lead with it. Others mention it as part of an overall platform. Others, like Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Township), actively sought to secure Michigan's electoral college votes for Trump.


But the number punctuates the popularity within the Republican Party's grassroots of the former President.


"Everybody wants the coveted Trump endorsement," said Debra Ell, a Saginaw County Republican who launched an American First questionnaire for candidates with the input of over a hundred grassroots conservatives. "We were sick of the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and not seeing justice for the crimes committed in 2020."


Ell has had 60 candidates for various offices fill out the questionnaire to date.


Those who have not are still seeing popular GOP candidates like Kristina Karamo and Matt DePerno get their political start by questioning the results of the 2020 election.


The grassroots enthusiasm for gubernatorial candidates Ryan Kelley and Garrett SoldanO has shown other candidates a path to tapping into a frustration and cynicism that has spread to other subjects: High inflation, $5 gasoline, Biden's ham-handed exit of Afghanistan and the Governor's COVID-19 policies.


"The America First policies worked well," said Mellissa Carone, a two-time legislative candidate before she was kicked off the ballot. "Look at what Trump was doing as president. The sanctions on countries. The tariffs and closed borders. The country was doing well. People were happy."


The movement has been so widespread, it's already fractured into subgroups. Carone, a witness in the House Oversight Committee's Rudy Giuliani hearing, has split with leading Trump-endorsed America First candidates Jon Rocha and Angela Rigas.


Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, who has enjoyed access to the Trump political team as a co-founder to his Michigan support team, has had her issues with Ell, now a prominent grassroots leader.


It's hard to avoid. Last week, the Poynter Institute cited national polling that 70% of Republican voters still believe Trump had the election stolen from him.


Since the 2020 election, the numbers haven't changed that much. Progress Michigan's monthly "Lake Effect" polling by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed last June that 39% of voters believed the 2020 election results were legitimate. This month, that number was at 32%.


Whether it's precinct delegate, county commission or Congress, "Trump Won" candidates are throwing their hat into the ring, but with varying sophistication.


These four congressional , 12 Senate  and 40 House candidates lack money and are relying on grassroots events and social media to advance their names. Most are not seen knocking doors or sending our mailers, two tell-tale signs of a successful legislative campaign.


"I'm seeing a lot of Facebook warriors," said one observer of Republican legislative politics.


Could they still be successful in a Republican primary? It's hard to know for sure. Many grassroots conservatives don't participate in polls. Will they even vote? Do they believe their vote would even count?


If the below list is successful, it would signal a seismic shift in Michigan's political structure. For one, it's likely Kelley or Soldano would be the GOP's nominee if many in the  list win their respective primaries.


Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), the unquestioned leader of the Trump movement in the Legislature, would be a formidable candidate for House Speaker.


If only Maddock and a couple more get through, is Trump 2024 a king with no clothes? Is America First remembered as a flash-in-the-pan movement fueled by conspiracy theorists?


Only the results of the August primary will begin to answer those questions. As the results roll in, keep an eye on the success or failure of the following candidates to know for sure:


Congressional candidates


- Tom Norton, 2nd District - Incumbent U.S. Rep. Moolenaar got the Trump endorsement back in February, but Norton is backed by Ted Nugent, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.


- John Gibbs, 3rd District - Picked by the Trump operation to run against U.S. Rep. Peter MEIJER (R) for the incumbent's support of impeachment.


- Hima Kolangireddy, 6th District - Testified alongside Rudy Giuliani during the House Oversight Committee hearing on allegations of election fraud. She worked at the TCF Center on Election Day in 2020.


 - Matthew Seely, 8th District - Pushed heavily by Ell in a potentially competitive district against U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint).


State Senate candidates


- James Chapman, 4th District - The guy who hung the Barbie doll by the fishing pole during the "Patriot" protest in April 2021, leans a little closer to QAnon with his answer to a questionnaire as to what happened on Jan. 6, 2021:


“The election was stolen by electronic vote fraud from local to international levels involving the Vatican, Red China and several NATO nations via encrypted DaVinci satellites, including COVID excuse absentee voting,” he said.


- Ken Crider, 6th District - He and wife, Penny Crider, are political allies of former Sen. Patrick COLBECK who volunteered at the TCF Center during the 2020 election. Penny Crider blew the whistle on overseeing a Detroit precinct on ballot mismatches between the number of votes recorded and the number of votes in the ballot container in 2016.


- Jonathan Lindsey, 17th District - Any early Trump endorsee who moved out of a Jackson/Ann Arbor seat to run in the more Republican southern border district. Leads with the "American First" label and running an ad that mentions a "stolen" election.


- Mike Detmer, 22nd District - Known for speaking at the armed "Patriot" rally in April 2021 and scoring a Trump endorsement, but his visibility isn't remotely what it was when he ran for Congress in 2020.


- Sherry Marden, 26th District - A registered nurse who spoke at the "Healthcare Freedom" demonstration last week. While a pro-Trump, America First candidate, she supports state legislation mandating "safe" nurse-patient ratios.


- Christina Hickson, 27th District - A Burton city council member who gathered signatures for Stand Up Michigan and an effort to impeach Whitmer. She's come to Lansing numerous times in protest -- Operation Gridlock, Operation Haircut, vaccine choice and unmask the kids, among others.


- Aaron Gardner, 27th District - Responded in a questionnaire that on Jan. 6, 2021 "Our federal government in cahoots with socialist progressive democrats created a pretense to arrest, harass, and spy on American people by creating a hostile environment with FBI agents acting as demonstrators."


- Keith Hinkle, 30th District - A former Trump and Colbeck coordinator in Kent County who took on Rob Verheulen for county party chair but fell short.


- Brian VanDussen, 31st District - Hosts the Patriots Voice podcast with former Rep. Dave AGEMA. He attempted to organize a Patriot Party in support of Trump, who was trying to "drain the swamp" during his time in office.


- C.J. Ritchard, 32nd District - A polarizing figure within the America First movement, Ritchard narrowly lost a challenge to 2nd Congressional District Chair Kent VanderWood, but is best known for his social media activity. Some consider Ritchard as more of a QAnon figure.


- William Hindle, 37th House District - After being endorsed by Lt. General Michael FLYNN – who served during the first month of the Trump White House – as an "America First Patriot," Hinkle says he's the only candidate in his Northern Michigan race willing to say the "2020 election was stolen." He wants a "full forensic audit" of the 2020 election.


- Matthew Furyk, 38th House District - Puts "America First" on his yard signs. He also uses a "U.P. First" slogan along with a "Drain the Lansing swamp" adaption of Trump's old campaign slogan.


State House candidates


- Diane Saber, 12th House District - Organizes pro-Trump rallies in her hometown of Roseville and was in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6. She supports getting rid of ballot counting machines and returning to hand-counting of ballots and would support impeaching Gov. Gretchen WHITMER if she "somehow gets elected for governor again."


- Penny Crider, 17th House District - A loyal Colbeck ally who was in the TCF Center for the counting of the Nov. 3, 2020 election. She says she witnessed fraud firsthand. She attended the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a Trump delegate. She started as a Ted Cruz supporter but came away as a Trump supporter. She and her husband, the Senate candidate, have signed the Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections (PIME) "Contract with Michigan."


- Anthony Paesano, 19th House District – received $2,000 from the Maddock Leadership Fund, but is running for a district with a 67% Democratic base. He's not leading with an "America First" rhetoric.


- Daniel Lawless, 21st House District – wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat at an April 9 rally out front of the Capitol, Lawless told an interviewer that election integrity is his No. 1 priority. He's campaigning under the "Michigan First" label on his webpage.


- Cathryn Neracher, 22nd House District – showed up at a "Trump Won" rally last year to talk specifically about abortion rights and concerns about critical race theory being taught in the schools.


- Lisa Werner, 27th House District – a full-throated America First advocate who wrote in a questionnaire she believes the Democratic Party and "world players" stole the country in the 2020 General election. She also believes "paid agitators" plotted to rile up an already agitated crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. "Plain and simple, America First, aligning policies that put we, the people, first," she wrote in her answer.


- Jamie Thompson, 28th House District – helped found with her husband the Brownstown Township-based "Michigan Leadership Group," a 501(c)4 that looks to build, in part, conservative leadership. Hosted a forum last year with a couple hundred people in April 2021 in which Colbeck and Carone spoke and a large majority indicated that they believed there was enough election fraud in the 2020 election to have changed the results.


- Sam Ditzhazy, 29th House District – a self-described Trump Republican who posted the day Maddock was kicked out of the Republican caucus that "This is nothing more than a petty attack by people who are on their way out. I'm proud to stand with Patriots like Matt any day."


- Steve Meckley, 35th House District – the "strong and consistent supporter of President Trump" writes on his webpage that "there was systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election and we need leaders to stand up to fight it . . . we need a complete forensic audit of what happened in the 2020 election."


- Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) , 36th House District – took a bullet for Trump when he abandoned his congressional bid in favor of the state House when the former president endorsed U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R)  to take out now-retiring U.S. Fred Upton (R) due to the way the redistricting lines worked out. He's been endorsed by Trump.


- Gary Mitchell, 42nd House District – is running against Rep. Matt HALL (R-Comstock Township). They called the Nov. 2020 election a "coup" in an America First questionnaire.


“The presidency, Senate, and most likely the House of Representatives were taken by the enemy using election fraud. We are in a war and we have lost the first great battle,” Mitchell said.


- Rachelle Smit, 43rd House District – is fully embracing Trump's endorsement by putting it on her literature and campaign signs. As one of most likely of the Trump-backed newcomers to win, she is running a traditional, aggressive campaign in which her primary opposition is from Grand Rapids Chamber-endorsed Lindsay Kronemeyer.


- Jason Woolford, 48th House District – another recipient of Maddock Leadership Fund dollars, Woolford shares many of the ideals of "America First" without directly using that lingo. Endorsed by the Citizens for Traditional Values.


- Matt Maddock, 51st House District – the pro-Trump leader of the "America First" movement in the state House and the Legislature, in general. Is supporting fellow America First candidates in hopes of becoming the next House Speaker.


G- Sandy Kiesel, 54th House District – led the Election Integrity Force, where she provided a rebuttal to the Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Twp.) report on the 2020 election. She supports removing Dominion voting machines and that legislators should be held accountable and replaced for ignoring evidence of election fraud. One of her top priorities is pushing a "Michigan First, America First agenda."


- Rep. Terence Mekoski (R-Harrison Twp.), 59th House District – one described by Mellissa Carone as the best legislator in Lansing, he holds an endorsement from General Flynn. He wrote in his America First questionnaire that, "I believe that there was voter fraud that occurred on multiple levels from AV voter harvesting to mail out ballots. I believe voter machines were hacked and that the election was stolen from President Trump."


- Jacky Eubanks, 63rd House District – a 2020 Trump campaign staffer who is so far right she was passed over by Right to Life. She's been endorsed by Trump and firmly believes he won the election.


"The commies stuffed the ballot boxes and rigged the machines," she wrote in a questionnaire. "The future of the GOP is MAGA! America First policies are popular because they're right!"


- Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Township), 64th House District --  was among those Republicans in on the plan to attempt to bring an alternate slate of electors to the Michigan Capitol during the gathering of the Electoral College in 2020. He had his committees stripped for saying on a radio interview the morning before the attempt that he didn't know if the "uncharted" event would be safe.


- Linda Glisman, 67th House District – a "strong believer" of the America First agenda, responded in a questionnaire that "Election Day was filled with cheating, the likes of whch we have never before seen. It was election fraud on a grand scale. I don't believe Biden's voters were all legitimate."


- Chad Moore, 67th House District – endorsed by the Michigan Trump Republicans, Moore wrote on his Facebook page, "I do not think that it is by coincidence that Flag Day falls (on the) same day as DJTs birthday. Happy birthday to 45 - our greatest President."


- Vern Miller, 68th House District – makes it clear on his Facebook page that he is an "American First" candidate. His message to Trump and his supporters: "I'll have your back."


- Kristen Swanson, 68th House District – advertises on her business cards as an "America First, Patriot Candidate" who was in Lansing for the medical freedom rally earlier this month. She also believes a more serious fight is necessary to combat election fraud.


- Kevin Rathbun, 71st House District – a Trump-backed candidate whose No. 1 issue on his web page is election integrity.


 "2020's election created chaos in the world's most stable nation. We watched as the election was STOLEN," he wrote. "This cannot happen again."


- Dylan Pescarolo, 72nd House District – said he will "continue to right the America/Michigan First agenda" at Trump's April 2 rally at Washington Township. Responded in a questionnaire that on Nov. 3, 2020, "They had millions of fraudulent voters prepared if things did not go their way. And when the second red wave hit, they got out all the fraudulent votes out and started counting them."


- Jon Rocha, 78th House District – a Trump-endorsed candidate who led an effort to put a forensic audit citizens’ initiative before the Legislature. He's now running as a write-in candidate after campaign finance issues got his name kicked off the ballot.


- Christine Barnes, 78th House District – a third-time candidate who is leading with a "Michigan First" platform and an endorsement from Gen. Flynn. She is preferred by Carone, who said "her views align with mine."


- Angela Rigas, 79th House District – a Trump-endorsed candidate endorsed by the Michigan Health Choice alliance. Is in a competitive primary election race with Jeremiah Keeler. She has been endorsed by Ted Nugent, Matt DePerno and the Michigan Trump Republicans.


- Bill Alexander, 82nd House District – is part of an effort to get America First, MAGA candidates on the Kent County Republican Party executive committee by attempting to win the nomination in a long-shot state representative district. He is associated with West Michigan Action Conservative PAC and Stand Up.


- Robert Regan, 84th House District – a MAGA candidate who won the primary for a special election earlier this year only to lose in the general election after making a poorly worded analogy about rape for which he declined to apologize. Believes the 2020 election should be decertified. He doesn't specifically lead with an 'America First' platform but embraces most of its tenets.


- Mick Bricker, 88th House District – the father of Maddock's son-in-law, is a Trump-endorsed candidate who is also "Patriot Approved." He's been endorsed by the Michigan Trump Republicans PAC and is considered to be the challenger best positioned to knock off a sitting member in the GOP primary this cycle due to a variety of factors, not the least of which being he's been working on his campaign for at least a year and he received the support of the Muskegon County GOP.


- Kathy Clark, 90th House District – described Trump as a "modern-day Paul" and praised the former president for his advance of conservative principles.


- Gene Haymaker, 92nd House District – filled out an America First questionnaire that the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol were incited by plants.


"It was a manufactured event." He said "mass voter fraud on several levels" happened during the Nov. 3, 2020 election. He wants a full forensic audit of the election, Dominion Voting Machines removed and elected officials held accountable.


- Alan Hoover, 93rd House District – is packaging himself as an "Americans First" candidate who is supporting Trump for a 2024 presidential bid and is a believer of the "stop the steal movement."


- Former Rep. Kurt Damrow, 98th House District – is rebranding himself as someone who hopes the "American First Agenda sticks around and does not simply fold after a big win, similar to the Team Party in 2011. I also hope the America First Group exposes the RINOs and fake candidates running from now on and into the future . . ."


He believes voting machines have been hacked since 2012.


- Mike Hoadley, 99th House District – the only Trump-endorsed candidate to also receive the backing by DeVos-supported groups like the Freedom Fund. He would seem to have a glide path to the Republican Party nomination, but is facing stiff headwinds from local superintendent Shawn PETRI.


- Diane Schindlebeck, 101st House District – is one of the founders, along with Meshawn Maddock, of the original Trump Republican group back in the day. She got in on the ground floor of the America First agenda.


- Ryan Roberts, 102nd House District – known on social media as "Logik," Roberts is big into exposing alleged election fraud. His rhetoric may steer a little more to Qanon land with his broad conspiracy theories about mass corruption and mass deception.


- Andrew Sebolt, 102nd House District – said he iss for the America First agenda. He wrote in a questionnaire that on Jan. 6, "A well-organized group of Communist agitators, working with some federal employees, helped to ‘guide’ our side INTO the capitol. Many went in peacefully. But the longer some were in there and ‘followed the lead’ of their erstwhile (and as yet unknown leftist handlers) the more a great movie was played out. The left actually planned out how to organize people to get into the capitol so the left could do the dirty deeds and blame it on real Americans. This is the same trick communists and socialists have played out around the world for decades. Look at Hitler and the Reichstag fire. THEY commit the crime and WE do the time!"


- Heather Cerone, 103rd House District –  is a Pro-Trump conservative activist working with Women for Trump. Jim HOFT of the Gateway Pundit and Patty McMurray, founder of 100% Fed Up, hosted a fundraiser for the "pro-election integrity" candidate.


- Larry Hull, 106th House District – has been active in recruiting precinct delegates as part of a MiPrecinctFirst.com after attending events for Matt DePerno and Garrett Soldano. He was in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.


“The Capitol police were only at partial strength and did not serve as a deterrent. Some Capitol policemen actually motioned people to come closer . . . It was a total set-up to discredit Trump,” he's said.