Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Delegate's Guide To The Michigan Republican Convention (And The Parties!)

By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At

Delegates, alternates, and guests-convention time is here again! That means so is the WMP convention guide, featuring easy to digest information about all the contested races Saturday.

Yes-there is a party schedule, too :)

(Feel free to email any information, edits, requests, or comments to

Attorney General

Speaker Of The House Tom Leonard

Bio: Tom Leonard is the Speaker of the Michigan House, having served in the legislature since 2013. Leonard is a University of Michigan Law School graduate and a former Flint Prosecutor. Leonard would be the first Attorney General to have previously worked as an Assistant Attorney General. His wife Jenell and daughter Hannah are frequently seen at political events across the state.

Top Issues: Leonard is well known for holding votes to cut Michigan's income tax, and reform the state's broken auto insurance system despite heavy opposition from Lansing lobbyists and special interests.

Leonard has led the way on eliminating former Governor Granholm's horrendous "driver responsibility fees," reforming teacher pensions, making English Michigan's official language, and holding MSU accountable during the Larry Nassar scandal.

Endorsements include  Rep. John Moolenaar, Rep. Paul Mitchell, State Representatives Steve Johnson, Gary Glenn, Tom Barrett, Lee Chatfield, and Jim Runestad, the Michigan Trump Republicans, Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski, RNC Committeewoman Kathy Berden, Scott Greenlee, 1st District Chair Jesse Osmer, 2nd District Chair Mike Hewitt, and Michigan Conservative Coalition leaders Meshawn Maddock, Diane Schindlbeck, Marian Sheridan, Rosanne Ponkowski, and Matt Maddock.


The Honorable State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Bio: Tonya Schuitmaker is a State Senator from Van Buren County in West Michigan. She previously served as a State Rep from Lawton from 2004-2010. 

After graduating from Detroit Law School, she joined her Father's law firm, also serving as President of the local bar association. She is a wife, Mom to two daughters, and says she is running to "protect what's important" to Michiganders.

Top Issues: Schuitmaker has focused on cracking down on sanctuary cities, defending pro life values, and drawing attention to perceived issues with Speaker Tom Leonard.

Her website touts legislative accomplishments, including:

  • A Senior Protection package that cracks down on elder abuse and gives law enforcement better tools to protect our loved ones.
  • Battling drunk driving, which earned her ‘Legislator of the Year’ by Mothers Against Drunk Driving two years in a row.
  • Combating drug addiction by passing legislation and serving on the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.

Endorsements include Rep. Bill Huizenga, former State Rep. Aric Nesbitt, State Senator Rick Jones, Pro Life Activist Rebecca Kiessling, MIGOP Vice Chairs Gerry Hildenbrand and Ben Soltis, RWFM President Linda Lee Tarver, grassroots activist Dodge Dawn, and the Michigan Fraternal Order Of Police.


Secretary Of State

Dr. Joseph Guzman

Bio: Dr. Joseph Guzman was a member of President Trump's Hispanic Advisory Committee and a 2016 Michigan Trump Campaign Co-Chair.

Dr. Guzman's resume includes, according to his website:

"Dr. Guzman holds a Ph.D. in Economic Analysis and Policy from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and advanced degrees in economics, statistics and business research from Stanford University, together with MBA and undergraduate engineering degrees from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Guzman served as a Michigan Co-Chair of the Trump campaign and as a National Elector for the state of Michigan. In 2014, Dr. Guzman was appointed MIGOP Chair of Hispanic Advisory. Dr. Guzman is also a member of Senator Orrin Hatch’s Hispanic Outreach Finance Subcommittee.

Previously, Dr. Guzman served two terms as an elected School Board Member in Loudoun County, Virginia and was appointed by the Virginia legislature as a Commissioner to the Education Commission of the States and as a Board Member or the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Dr. Guzman’s work at the Pentagon included serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Office of Financial Management & Comptroller, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force in the office of Manpower & Reserve affairs and as Director of the Department of Defense Biometric Management Office. Dr. Guzman was twice awarded Civilian Service Medals in recognition of his contributions to the Department of Defense.

Dr. Guzman’s academic research focuses on policy analysis. His policy research experience includes having served as a Think Tank economist with the Center for Naval Analyses and the RAND Corporation, both Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

Dr. Guzman has received awards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce for his work advancing the implementation of biometrics technologies. He has been named to the Top 100 Hispanic Influentials list and one of Ten to Watch by Hispanic Business Magazine. Most recently, Dr. Guzman received the 2015 Michigan Educator of the Year award from the Michigan Civil Rights Board, Hispanic/Latino Commission.

Dr. Guzman and Mrs. Guzman, his bride of 25 years, live in Okemos, Michigan, where together they are dedicated to raising and educating their five beautiful children."

Top Issues: Improving the integrity of Michigan's election system, cracking down on continuous issues in Detroit, allowing an alternative to "Real ID," moving more SOS services online for easier access, and improving wait times at branch offices...

Endorsements include Michigan 2016 Trump State Director Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan Trump Republicans, State Rep. Aaron Miller, Wes Nakagiri


Mary Treder Lang

Bio: Mary Treder Lang is an accountant from Metro Detroit running on a platform of "security, optimazation, and safety." She is a regent at Eastern Michigan University.

According to her website:

"Upon completion of her Bachelor of Science Degree in both Accounting and Marketing from the University of Dayton, Mary began her career at KPMG, located in Detroit where she specialized in financial institutions, non-for-profits and mergers, and acquisitions. Following her time at KPMG, she spent five years in various management positions at SBC/Ameritech. She spent considerable time in the Computer Security District and became a recognized computer security expert amongst the Bell Operating Companies. 

She ultimately left SBC/Ameritech to establish a new Midwest Office for LINX Technologies, as the North American Sales Director. Mary continued to hold various senior management roles after LINX was acquired by Mosler, Inc. In 2001 Mary joined Siemens, Inc. where she held various senior management positions ranging from North American Sales Director, Sales Manager, District Manager (first woman), and Senior Executive-Government for Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. Later she joined Baker Tilly as Director of Business Development. 

In 2013, Mary entered the public sector when she started at Vista Maria as Vice President of Development Program. Mary & her team worked with vulnerable youth in an effort to help them successfully transition into adulthood with life & workforce development skills to succeed and contribute to their communities. Recently Mary moved to the newly created position of Vice President of Major Gifts. 

Throughout the years, Mary has provided a consulting service focusing on business development, branding & marketing solutions, financial, and public sector advice. Mary is a master connector in networking and introducing professionals.

Mary Treder Lang has served or is currently serving on several profit and non-for-profit boards, including the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Blue Ribbon Panel, and the former Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. In 2012 she received the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Emerging Leader Award given by the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants for the first time in the State of Michigan. 

In 2008 Mary defeated five candidates to win the Republican nomination for the 1st District State House seat. Unfortunately the wave election kept her from winning the General, however Mary stayed active in Republican politics serving as a Precinct Delegate, raising money for candidates and served as a member of the State Committee, where she chaired the Budget Committee.

She is active in her community as a member of the St. Paul's Catholic Church, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Grosse Pointe Chamber, and Past Commodore of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. She is also active in philanthropic efforts for the Michigan Women's Foundation, March of Dimes, Forgotten Harvest, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society and Vista Maria.

Mary has been happily married to Paul Lang for thirty-two years, with whom she has raised three children and has welcomed a son-in-law into their family."

Top Issues: Fight cyber attacks, protect personal information, improve branch wait times, improve election training, as well as customer service at SOS offices...

Endorsements include Rep. Fred Upton, former Rep. Candice Miller, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck, and the 1st Congressional District Republican Committee


State Board Of Education

Tami Carlone

(Accountant. Conservative. Trump Republican.)




Ida Byrd Hill



Dr Z, Richard Zeile


In His Own Words:

"I am currently finishing an 8-year term on the State Board of Education. In the last two years I have been honored to serve as the Republican Co-President of the Board which is currently split 4-4. Democrats have dominated the Board for the previous 20-some years. Because two Republican-held terms end this year, the best we can do is retain our 4-4 split which prevents the Board from advocating horrendous stuff like implementing the Board's 2016 LGBTQ policy (so-called “bathroom bill” policy), or closing down charter schools.
I would very much like to continue service on the State Board of Education and ask for your support at our upcoming convention of the Michigan Republican Party. We will nominate 2 candidates, and I hope you will give me one of your votes.
I have been a consistent advocate of traditional values in education and a critic of the various fads that promise simple solutions to complex problems. We often overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term and underestimate what we can accomplish with small consistent policy adjustment over time. Above all, I have pointed out the limitations of expensive government programs in compensating for dysfunction in the home."


Presumptive Nominees:

Lt. Governor: Lisa Posthumus Lyons

Supreme Court: Judge Elizabeth Clement and Judge Kurt Wilder

MSU Board of Regents: Dave Dutch and Mike Miller

U of M Board of Regents: Andrea Newman and Andrew Richner

Wayne State Board of Regents: Diane Dunaskiss and David Nicholson


CTV Ice Cream Social @ 630, Lansing Center (featuring Attorney General Bill Schuette and LG nominee Lisa Posthumus Lyons)

Tom Leonard: 7-10 at Lansing Brewing Company

Mary Treder Lang: 6:30-8:30 at Troppo

Dr. Guzman's Prayer and fellowship: 9-11 inside the Lansing Center

Tonya Schuitmaker: 8-12 at the NutHouse


(Via MIGOP.Org)


Ron Weiser


Ron Weiser was elected Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party on February 11, 2017. He also served as Chairman from February, 2009 through January, 2011.
Chairman Weiser has chaired numerous political and judicial campaigns including four Michigan Supreme Court races and was Chairman of Team Michigan from 1997-2000. He served as the Michigan Finance Chair of Bush for President in 1999 and 2000 and as a member of the National Executive Committee of Victory 2000. He served as Ambassador to Slovakia under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He served during 2005-06 as the Michigan Republican State Finance Chair and was a National Co-Chair for Senator John McCain in 2007-2008.
In February 2011, he was appointed as Co-Chair of the RNC’s National Finance Transition Committee. From April 2011 to February 2013, he served as the RNC’s National Finance Chair.
Chairman Weiser was one of the primary architects of the "Right-to-work law" legislation enacted by the Michigan legislature in December 2012.
Chairman Weiser was selected in 2016 to lead the Republican National Committee's fundraising efforts for President Donald Trump.
Chairman Weiser was born in South Bend, Indiana on July 7, 1945 and graduated with honors in 1966 from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He also did post-graduate work at the University’s Business and Law Schools.
In 1968, Chairman Weiser founded McKinley Associates Inc., a national real estate investment company and served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 2001, and again upon his return from Slovakia to the present. He married his wife Eileen in 1983 and they currently live in Ann Arbor with their son, Daniel. The Weisers also have two married children, Elizabeth and Marc, and five grandchildren.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth


Amanda Van Essen Wirth was elected Co-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party on February 11, 2017. She was previously Chair of the Ottawa County Republican Party in 2015 and 2016. She was the Vice Chair of the Ottawa County Republican Party in 2013 and 2014.
Amanda Van Essen Wirth is a graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she received her J.D. concentrated in Constitutional Law and Civil Rights. She is also a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she received her BBA in Marketing. In 2014, she completed the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Legal Center Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course. In 2016, she completed the Advanced Course.
Amanda Van Essen Wirth is a practicing attorney in Hudsonville, MI. She is the attorney Guardian ad Litem for Ottawa County, representing children that have been victims of abuse and neglect. She lives in Hudsonville with her husband, Chris and 5 year old, Noah, as well as, their 3 horses, 2 dogs, and 1 mule.

Kathy Berden

National Committeewoman

Kathy Berden was elected as the National Committeewoman from Michigan on May 9, 2015. As a farmer with her husband Dean, mother of their four children and a grandmother of ten, Kathy became involved in politics to secure the promise of America, for not only her children and grandchildren, but for all Americans.
She has served as a State Committee Member from the 10th Congressional District for the past six years, and four years ago, she was elected Chair of the Sanilac County Republican Party. With her team, they were able to transform their local party, triple meeting attendance, and increase fundraising and activities of the party by focusing on community engagement in fairs, festivals and other community organizations. As Chair, Kathy felt it was important to present a positive face in the community for the Republican Party.
In 2012, she was a member of the Michigan Delegation to the Republican National Convention and worked tirelessly to promote our Michigan Republican Team.

Dr. Rob Steele

National Committeeman

Dr Rob Steele was elected to the RNC in 2016. A University of Michigan Regent Scholar, he received his bachelor’s degree with High Honors and MD degree in 1981 at age 23, one of the youngest graduates in the history of UM Medical School. He served over 20 years as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UM.
In private practice since 1987 he was a founding member of Michigan Heart PC, a practice that grew to 35 physicians and 300 employees, serving on the Board of Directors and Chairing the Finance and Benefits Committee. He holds Board Certifications in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Interventional Cardiology and Echocardiography and has performed over 20,000 heart catheterizations.
A founding member of the Southeast Michigan Committee for Heritage, he has been involved with organizations like Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College and Mackinac Center for nearly 30 years.
His first involvement in partisan politics came in 2010 when he ran against John Dingell, the longest serving Congressman in history while working full time as a Cardiologist. Steele finished higher above the Republican baseline than any legislative candidate in the state giving Dingell his closest race ever, while raising over a Million dollars in individual donations, tops for all US House challengers. In 2012 and 2014 Steele was the top Republican nominee at State Convention for the University of Michigan Board of Regents.
In the last 5 years he has given more than 200 talks around the state speaking mainly on Healthcare and Education Policy Reform, and has been active in national groups promoting free market alternative healthcare models.
He and his wife of 30 years, Dr Phyllis Boniface, a Psychiatrist, have 4 adult children. Dr Steele continues in the full-time practice of Cardiology.

Gerry Hildenbrand

Administrative Vice-Chair

Gerry Hildenbrand attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College and was elected to the position of Administrative Vice Chair at the February Michigan Republican State Convention.
As a grassroots leader, Gerry Hildenbrand has been active raising funds, organizing Lincoln Day Dinners and events, recruiting delegates and volunteers, and putting in countless hours to support our Republican nominees and elected officials. His dedication to our party’s conservative values stem from his belief that America is our last great hope for freedom and our values must be defended. He has dedicated the last two decades serving our nation in the US Navy and Michigan Air National Guard. He and his wife are raising their three children in Allegan County. They are among the reasons he continues to fight for our cause every day!
As MIGOP Administrative Chairman, he pledged to be responsive and available to all those who want to participate in the process. He will do his best to serve as a liaison between the grassroots and the MIGOP Staff who manage our conferences and conventions. He believes his professional and political background can serve the party well and help build a brighter future for our great state and nation.

Terris Todd

Ethnic Vice Chair

Terris Todd was elected as the Michigan Republican Party Ethnic Vice Chair in 2017. Prior to his election, Terris served as the Director of District Relations in the MI House of Representatives, 5 term Calhoun County Commissioner, Civil Services Commissioner for Battle Creek Fire Department, President of Battle Creek Senior Branch NAACP, Trustee for Battle Creek Community Foundation, along with several board appointments to local non-profit organizations serving at-risk populations. He currently serves as Chair of Education and Outreach for Calhoun County GOP, 1st Vice President of Cereal City Chapter of B.I.G (Blacks In Government) and member of Michigan Republican Party African American Council to the RNC.
Apart from politics, Terris has an extensive background in education and the faith-based community. He is a former teacher and administrator of Battle Creek Public Schools. Currently, Terris is the Director of Education and Children Services for Community Action of South Central Michigan, serving low-income children and families in 3 counties. He is the Vice Chair of Battle Creek Area Learning Center and Chair of Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee. Terris is the founder of the Future Leaders Award, an award for students who excel in Social Studies and Government. He is also an adjunct instructor at Kellogg Community College where he teaches an Education Trends course.
As an ordained minister, Terris has served under the leadership of Bishop Hugh D. Smith Jr, Presiding Bishop of Jabula International Network and Senior Pastor of Embassy Covenant Church Int’l in Troy, MI over 20 years. Terris and his wife Karen were the founders of The Green Pasture Campus Ministry at Michigan State University and Co-Founders of My Brother’s Keeper Inc., a guardianship service for making medical and placement decisions for our most vulnerable citizens. Terris was acknowledged by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Woman’s Club, Inc. (Battle Creek) with a Leadership Award in 2005 and the Frederick Douglas Award in 2009 (Highest Award).
As MIGOP Ethnic Vice Chair, Terris is committed to carrying out the conservative message and building our party with those who share the beliefs and values that we hold near and dear to our hearts and embedded in our founding documents. Terris and his wife Karen are happily married with three beautiful daughters who are also committed to the work of the Lord and living a life of true freedom and prosperity.

Mark Gurley

Grassroots Vice Chair

Mark Gurley is a financial advisor who has been in the insurance and investment business since 1988. His specialty, since 2002, has been advising financial institutions to maximize their yields, minimize taxes and reward and retain their top performing executives. He obtained his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) from the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Recently, Mark was Certified in Long Term Care (CLTC). Mark has a degree in Business Administration from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.
He was a founder and director of the Healing Rooms of Grand Rapids from 2002-2009, a ministry that brought healing to the sick and injured. Mark is a charter member of The Oak Initiative and is co-director for the Michigan Oak Initiative. As a founding board member of the Michigan Capitol House of Prayer (MICHOP), Mark is excited that people of prayer from churches across the state come to pray for legislators a total of 50 hours per week across the street from the Capitol in Lansing. Mark was ordained in 2002 and is a frequent teacher and speaker. In 2013, Mark was knighted in the Order of St. Johns of Jerusalem, the oldest Christian order in the world. Commonly known as Knights of Malta. He was knighted for his work for taking a stand against radical Islam.
Mark has a family history of influencing leaders. In the 1860’s, Dr. Phineas Gurley, President Abraham Lincoln’s pastor and spiritual advisor, helped to shape the President’s views on slavery during the Civil War in America through prayer and the study of the Bible. The two men drafted the first version of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Gurley is Mark’s great-great grandfather, and in his family’s tradition, Mark continues to offer spiritual insight to leaders. Mark and his wife Michele have been married over 20 years and have two children whom they home school.

Benjamin J. Soltis

Outreach Vice Chair

Benjamin J. Soltis was elected as Outreach Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party in 2017. A long time activist, Benjamin dedicated himself to helping Republicans win across Michigan. As a precinct delegate, he has been an Executive Committee Member of the Jackson County Republican Party since 2015, helped run State Representative Mary Whiteford’s campaign, was Chair of Students for Terri Lynn Land, and was a Student Senator at Grand Valley State University. During his time as Student Senator, he was the only candidate to campaign on the Republican platform of ProLife and Second Amendment issues. Once elected, he unbanned pepper spray on campus, brought about recognition of ProLife issues at the Grand Valley Women’s Center, corrected the size of the American flag, and introduced a resolution to challenge the ban of firearms on campus.
Growing up and currently residing in Jackson County, Michigan, Benjamin was raised with a great appreciation toward the official founding of the Republican Party in his hometown back in 1854. He is the oldest of 7 children, a member of the NRA, active in his Knights of Columbus Chapter, and has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Benjamin is dedicated to reaching out to Republicans and helping them realize how they can assist the party. This goes beyond just voting for the candidates, but by providing materials and trainings to aid county party committees with retaining active members.

Michael Sullivan

Youth Vice Chair

Michael Sullivan was elected as Youth Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party in December of 2017. An activist since 15 years old, Michael has been helping Republicans win up and down the ticket for the past four election cycles. He founded the Petoskey Teenage Republicans in 2011, after volunteering on his first campaign, Dr. Dan Benishek for Congress. He currently serves as a precinct delegate representing Littlefield Township in Emmet County and has served on the Executive Committee of the First Congressional District since 2013.
Michael graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with his Bachelor's of Science in Political Science and International Relations. During his time at college, Michael was the Chairman of the Grand Valley State University College Republicans and Co-Chairman of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans. He led the efforts to organize two presidential town halls at Grand Valley State University for the Kasich and Trump campaigns in 2016. He also served on the Student Senate and was a member of the Students for Life.
As an Eagle Scout and devout Catholic, Michael is passionate about serving God and his community. Michael currently works as a Constituent Relations Representative for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Michael's main mission is to bring the conservative voice of the Republican Party to all college campuses in Michigan and to ensure conservatives on campus have the ability to join their fellow like-minded students in a College Republican Chapter.

Christina Barr

Coalitions Vice Chair

Christina Barr was elected to the position of Coalitions Vice-Chair December of 2017.
Born and raised in the city of Pontiac, Christina was brought up with an understanding of how important it was to be an active member in her community and her father’s church. Aside from being a minister and engaging in local outreach, she has traveled on the mission field with her family.
As a young author of ten published books and founder of Ninja Dust Publishing, Christina has traveled the country and given talks at churches and schools to encourage entrepreneurship, particularly in the African American community. One of the many reasons Christina identifies as a Republican, is because their platform and policies empower the people to enrich their own lives, as opposed to creating a dependent constituency, like the Democrats.
In 2014, Christina ran for State Representative and Congress in Michigan’s 14th District. Since then, she served on the Oakland County Executive Committee, the 14thDistrict Committee, and was a State Committee member. Christina also worked at the Michigan Republican Party as the Creative Director from August 2015 to November of 2017.
As the Coalitions Vice-Chair, Christina’s goal is to engage with activists all throughout the “great tent” of the Republican Party, to diligently spread our party platform and the positive influence of Republican policies, and to grow our base.


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at


  1. Doesn't look like there will be any close races, just the way Chairman Weiser likes it. It's pretty clear Tom Leonard will be the A.G. nominee and Mary Treder Lang will be the Secretary of State nominee. Can they overcome Marijuana, Minimum Wage and a Bum GOP Governor candidate on the ballot in November? Failure in November will NOT be President Trump's fault.

    1. "Failure in November will NOT be President Trump's fault."

      Wrong. It will totally be trumps fault. He's the leader of the party, and he'll have to take personal responsibility for the outcome in November.

    2. It's not Donald Trump's fault Marijuana and Minimum Wage are on the Michigan ballot. And it certainly is not his fault that Bill Schuette was the predetermined MIGOP Cabal's 2018 Governor candidate back in 2015. THEY will blame Trump, you can bet on that.