Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MI GOP Chair Race Heats Up As Convention Approaches

Ronna Romney-McDaniel

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

The race for Michigan Republican Party Chair is heating up as the convention rapidly approaches. 

The candidates are RNC Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, nurse and Wayne St. instructor Kim Shmina, and longtime Conservative leader and activist Norm Hughes. (Look for increasing coverage on the February 20th/21st convention over the coming days, including other races and events corresponding with it.)

The race will likely take more than one ballot to complete, as the odds that a candidate can get more than 50% the first go-around is highly unlikely.

As the frontrunner, Ronna Romney-McDaniel has taken a lot of heat, and fires continue to rage on multiple fronts. From fellow candidates to members of the media, Romney is the prime focus of the forthcoming election to replace an outgoing Bobby Schostak.


Both MIRS and Gongwer have tried to get answers out of Romney-McDaniel, as has Tim Skubick, WMP, and others. Though Skubick correctly notes:

"Be clear here. Ms. Romney is under no obligation to say squat to the media. In fact former GOP chair Ron Weiser was nearly invisible during his tenure. She is not a candidate for public office where more media exposure is the norm. Since she is courting party players, she has every right to avoid the media and deal with the delegates on her terms."


In a Facebook post Saturday, former Congressman Kerry Bentivollio endorsed Norm Hughes while blasting Ronna Romney-McDaniel.

"Let's me see if I understand you correctly? You want me to support someone who betrayed her party faithful and now you want me to support her as the MI GOP Chair? What? Are you crazy! I placed her in the same category as I placed Jane Fonda. Sorry. I fought in two wars for my country, I don't kiss anyone's ring nor their puppet master's ass. I'm supporting Norm Hughes."

Bentivolio is referring to Romney-McDaniel's support of David Trott. Trott, the wealthy "foreclosure king," bounced Bentivolio from Congress by beating him in the primary last August. Romney-McDaniel and her Uncle, Mitt Romney, were key supporters for Trott, raising money and media exposure for now Rep. Trott.

Romney-McDaniel has been attacked repeatedly since she declared and we have refused to repeat most of those allegations/smears.Bentivollio's though, while not worded the most diplomatically, are legitimate.

Romney has chosen Jeff Sakwa as her Vice Chair, and that is a positive move in the eyes of many.

Romney recently clarified she does not support the May 5th road package and says she is happy with the race so far.

"I am proud of the positive race Jeff and I are running and am encouraged by the support we have heard around the state for our message of unity and a party that represents “all of us.” Unfortunately, there are some who choose to mischaracterize my record and positions without even taking steps to speak with me directly. For the record, I support our platform. I voted for it in 2012. I do not support the May 5th Sales Tax Increase or Common Core. I proudly voted against Common Core at the RNC. I look forward to sharing our plans to strengthen the grassroots by working more closely with county, district and local activists. We will continue to run a positive race that will exemplify our belief that it will take “all of us” to be successful in 2016 and beyond. We look forward to seeing many of you at convention. "

Her website bio says:

"Ronna Romney McDaniel has been a grassroots conservative activist her
entire life. She learned politics from the ground up beginning as a driver for
her mother’s US Senate Race in 1994. She has worked on many campaigns
from school board to Presidential.

Throughout her career, Ronna has managed multi-million dollar budgets,
overseen grassroots campaigns and media projects, been responsible for the
management and personnel of staffs, been a successful fundraiser, and taken
part in all aspects of campaign and political projects.

In February 2014, Ronna was elected the Republican National Committee
Woman from Michigan. Ronna has served as a Precinct Delegate, as a
District Committee Executive Member and State Committeewoman in
Michigan. She Chaired the Women for Mitt Michigan Coalition in 2012, and
served as National Delegate to the Tampa Convention representing
Michigan’s 11th District.

In 2013, she served as Co-Chair for the Mackinac Leadership Conference
and was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of
Marriage and Family Therapists, being recently elected vice-chair by the

Kim Shmina, a Wayne State instructor and nurse, has strong grassroots support. She has recently released the plan she would like to implement as Chair. It is based off of facets of the nursing profession. 

She has chosen Andy Sebolt as her Vice-Chair. Sebolt is a veteran Oceana County Commissioner, and liberty activist.

Shmina, center, with AG Schuette, left, and husband Michael, right
 Here is the plan:

Dr. Kim Shmina’s Intensive Care Plan for the Michigan Republican Party
Using the  Nursing  Process  to  Restore  Trust  and  Build  Unity  through  Reconciliation and Accountability
1. Assessment
Our party is deeply divided between its respective wings and we must determine why. In this first step, we gather objective and subjective data about all former, current and potential republican delegates, candidates and volunteer activists. We must first assess our wounds by discussing among friends, peers, and organizational leaders what we believe the problems are. Consider gathering:
Objective data, derived from questions which can be quantified, such as:
  • How many 2012 Precinct Delegates did not file in 2014? Who are they?
  • How much has volunteer support increased or decreased in this district?
  • By what rate is attendance at meetings and events increasing or decreasing?
  • Perform comparative analysis on prior republican voter turnout counts.
Subjective data, gathered as we talk one to another about our feelings, needs, and perspectives concerning the problems we’re facing. Information about each fellow delegate’s response to our current situation is established, such as:
  • In what areas do you feel your voice is least heard or taken seriously?
  • Have republicans ever violated your trust or hurt your feelings? How so?
  • What sets those you still trust apart from the rest? How do they do it?
  • What inspired each of us to become republican activists in the first place?
  • What would it take from us to increase your involvement in the party
2. Diagnosis
Next we analyze the information to identify not only the problem but its root causes. Dr. Shmina diagnoses the MIGOP as having a lack of unity related to:
  • Mistrust between groups and factions within the party.
  • Lack of accountability to:
    • Our constitutional principles of liberty & justice.
    • The Republican Party Platform, as ratified by its delegate assemblies.
    • A consistent set of honest and justifiable bylaws & convention rules.
  • Lack of sufficient, meaningful communication:
    • Between the MIGOP and county & district party organizations.
    • Among peer county & district party organizations across the state.
    • Between liberty & tea party groups, and party leadership.
    • Between elected officials & local party organizations or patriot groups.
    • Among voters & their precinct delegates who too often run unopposed.
    • Among peer delegates, especially between those in rival wings of the party, or across county and district boundaries.
  • Lack of support and appreciation for their effort is sensed by delegates.
  • Delegates lack a voice and debate venue to speak & be heard by the full delegation. Meaningful debate has been relegated to external venues (i.e., Facebook) where Democrats make a public mockery of our discourse.
  • Disenfranchised delegates and volunteers have not received an apology or any form of reconciliation on the issues for which they have felt harmed.
  • Back room deals of money influence & the consultant class carry far too great of impact on elections, conventions, and party leadership decisions.

Consider other symptoms to add to this diagnosis within your local group.

3. Planning our Goals
While we share many common goals, it is important to also include the pursuits of each county organization as well as the unique individuals who comprise them. Everyone has a specific reason for why they became a GOP activist. Their voice must be included in the planning process—otherwise participation will decline and stagnation will occur. Start here & add in your local goals:
  • Facilitate opportunities to communicate, build trust & discover friendship.
  • Foster accountability & reconcile prior wrongs to those disenfranchised.
  • Recognize our differences, but build collaboration on our common ground.

4. Implementation
  • Host opportunities to learn & grow together, building camaraderie & trust:
    • Social activities to allow casual interaction in non-threatening venues.
    • Affordable weekend retreats to bring factions together with a purpose.
    • Host post-election events for losing candidates to uplift one another.
    • Offer workshops and webinars to educate delegates, candidates & elected officials on the full latitude of their authority and how to be most effective in cultivating the platform & constitutional principles from their positions.
  • Facilitate reconciliation & accountability:
    • Form independent judiciary committees to hear grievances of alleged party rules and bylaw violations. (A system of checks & balances.)
    • End open primaries & select nominees via conventions or caucus to:
      • End tax-payer funding of private, internal party decision making.
      • Stop democrats from influencing & weakening GOP nominations.
      • Spend campaign funds fighting democrats, not fellow republicans.
      • Inspire the most engaged primary voters to become delegates.
      • Create healthy, competitive precinct delegate races in which delegates become more engaged with their constituent voters.
    • Form ‘comeback’ teams to reach out to former delegates & volunteers, provide them with a voice, and reconcile for prior perceived wrongs.
    • No party resources will be used for initiatives countering our platform.
    • Legislators who go against the platform are no longer a protected class.
  • Provide delegates with a real voice, fostering communication through:
    • Convention rules to allocate equal time for delegates in each district to have the floor and voice concerns before the full delegate assembly.
    • Build a private online debate portal for delegates to engage meaningful discourse on any relevant topic in a safe, non-public space without fear of media scrutiny or ridicule.
  • Raise & spend party financial resources wisely
    • Restore Vice-Chair of Finance position as part of a finance committee.
    • Capture small-dollar donor sector that is currently overlooked.
    • Fair bidding process on all consultant projects.
    • Party must retain all voter ID data which it funds.
    • Provide legitimate budget to state party Vice-Chairs for their programs.

Her website bio says:

"Dr. Kimberly Shmina has been fighting for your conservative rights for nearly a decade. Serving as a precinct delegate, a St. Clair County Republican Party committee member and a 10th District committee member, Kim’s determination and drive for preserving citizens’ freedoms helped propel her to the Vice Chair of the 10th District. In 2015, Kim wants to be your next Michigan Republican Party Chair, providing a strong voice for your future.

Throughout the years, Kim has strived to serve others and make a difference in her community. Armed with a nursing degree, Kim began working with young mothers and began to see first-hand how local government policies and laws can provide assistance for families and children.  Kim has PROVEN leadership abilities including her experience as the Maternal/Child Health Director for Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.  In this position, Kim was in charge of 27 counties and the health department had an 8 million dollar budget. Kim Shmina can manage people, budgets and resources, skills necessary to excel as GOP chairman.

Kim continued working with young people once she began teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Wayne State University in 2006, and even earned her doctorate in nursing in 2013 from Wayne State (along with her Bachelor’s from U of M, and Masters from MSU). As both a nurse and full time faculty member, Kim has a unique perspective on how government policy influences our healthcare and educational systems.
Instead of waiting for someone to step in and step up to create the necessary change, Kim became the voice of the people. She got involved. She’s 100% pro-life and a firm proponent of the Constitution. She’s proven herself to be a true leader in the fight against common core curriculum in her school district, proposing a return to a back-to-the-basics approach within the educational system.

Kim’s background starts from her small-town roots in Cheboygan County, and she understands that the key to promoting change is by fostering relationships, bridging gaps and focusing on collective goals that best represent the needs of the community. Kim still lives in a small town, residing in St. Clair County with her husband and children, and puts those small-town values into all she does.

With your support as the next Michigan Republican Party Chair, Kim Shmina has the vision to build and strengthen the party by continuing the successes of outgoing chair Bobby Schostak, electing and retaining a strong Finance Chair and Finance Committee, but there’s more work to do. Kim Shmina has the drive and the vision to deliver results, and truly unite our party."

Norm Hughes,pictured below with Reagan, and then,with his granddaughter, is also popular among the grassroots in the party. He contemplated the math studiously before deciding to announce and believes he can win.

He has chosen as his co-chair Marian Sheridan an Oakland County Tea Part leader.

His website says:

Norm is a life-long active member of the Republican Party, a successful entrepreneur, and an architectural engineer.  His 30 year old firm, Unique Design and Build, designs and manages award-winning commercial building projects.
Norm, in his long service to the Republican Party, has been:
  • Two time National Delegate to National Republican Conventions
  • Presidential Elector to US Electoral College
  • Two time Republican nominee for U.S. Congress
  • Executive Director, Michigan Reagan for President
  • Assistant to Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, D.C.)
  • Senior Policy Advisor, Federal Emergency Management Agency (Washington, D.C.)
  • Presidential Spokesman as member of White House Speakers Bureau
  • Co-author of Michigan’s landmark Tax Limitation Amendment
  • Instrumental in passage of Labor Freedom Laws (Right to Work) in December, 2012.

Hughes says his plan for the party is to do the following:

Recruit, train, build up, equip, motivate, and inspire our grass roots, volunteers, delegates, and candidates.  Norm will build a team of skilled, professional campaign operatives to provide
  • help and support
  • polling data and analysis
  • volunteer and delegate training
  • candidate campaign and fundraising training
Listen to and enable local Parties and Republican Clubs to be all they can be by having the team develop programs for each unique case
Strengthen the Republican Brand by promoting the ideas and ideals of the Republican Party as outlined in the Republican Platform.

1) Defend Republican principles and the platform and re-establish the Republican brand (limited government at the lowest possible level to the people, less taxes and regulations, founding principles and traditional values, etc.);

2) Recruit, train, build up, equip, motivate and inspire the grassroots;

3) Listen to and enable local Parties and Republican Clubs to be all they can be (no cookie-cutter dictation, but programs developed for each unique case);

4) Raise enough money to allow this to happen. That is precisely my resume' and experience, and what we shall do with your support!
Norm believes that our Republican grass roots, volunteers, delegates, and candidates -- the backbone and strength of the Republican Party of Michigan -- need and deserve the support and the help of the state Republican Party.    Support and help that has not always been forthcoming.  As Chair of the Republican Party of Michigan, Norm will provide that help and support.  With Norm's guidance, the Republican will educate the Michigan voters about our principals, our values, and about how our party is the right home for them.

With Norm as Chairman, the Republican Party will strive to earn more than 29% of the Hispanic vote, earn more than 40% of votes from women and young people, earn more than 40% the Jewish vote, more than 6% of the African American vote, and a greater share of the oriental vote.  All while keeping the votes of the majority of men.

A majority of Americans agree with the values and principals of the Republican Party when our values and principals are explained to them.
Working together, we will educate Michiganders about our policies and principals, we will earn more of their votes, we will elect more candidates, and we will grow and strengthen the Republican Party of Michigan."


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


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

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