The Gongwer Blog

Special Election Wins May Affect GOP House Speakership Race

By Jordyn Hermani
Staff Writer
Posted: March 18, 2022 6:48 PM

Special election primaries in the 36th, 43rd and 74th House districts earlier this month could have implications for the Republican leadership race after outsider candidates took home victories in two of three conservative strongholds.

These wins are for terms ending January 1, 2023, should these candidates go on to win in the May general special election. They'll also need to run in the standard August-November races if they hope to keep the seat for a full term.

Republican winners on March 1 included Terence Mekoski in the 36th House district, Robert Regan in the 74th and Mike Harris in the 43rd (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 1, 2021).

Currently in the running for, potentially, speakership among Republicans is Rep. Matt Hall of Marshall, Rep. Sarah Lightner of Springport, Rep. Andrew Fink of Hillsdale and Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford.

Mr. Hall is considered the leading candidate currently with a wealth of caucus support behind him. Some, however, are looking to the recent rise in Trump-backed candidates that are running for state office as trouble for Mr. Hall given that Mr. Maddock has sway over that wing of the party.

Sources familiar with the situation said that of the three who won in the special primary, Mr. Regan and Mr. Mekoski are likely to back Mr. Maddock in his run while Mr. Harris would be behind Mr. Hall.

The candidates in question, though, are remaining tightlipped about who they would support.

While Mr. Harris gave Mr. Hall a shout out as being a big help during his campaign, he said he was "keeping his powder dry right now" when asked if he supported the lawmaker for leadership.

"He has been a huge help, but I don't know any of the leadership candidates very well yet and my goal is to go in and meet everybody and see where I should put my support," Mr. Harris said.

Mr. Regan made similar remarks when asked shortly after his win.

He said that he was aware of the leadership race, naming that he knew of Mr. Hall and Mr. Maddock specifically, but that he didn't know enough about either candidate yet to decide where to levy his support.

"I haven't been approached yet but I'm sure I will be," Mr. Regan said. "I know there's a race for speaker going on but, quite frankly, my sole focus has been working so hard on this election that I haven't really given it a whole lot of thought."

Mr. Mekoski also indicated that Mr. Hall, Mr. Maddock and Mr. Fink all called to congratulate him on his win earlier this month but that he hadn't given much thought to the leadership race outside of those well-wishes, telling Gongwer News Service: "I haven't even looked into it."

Per Gongwer's last check, Mr. Hall boasted more than a dozen leadership endorsements, Mr. Fink had at least two and both Ms. Lightner's and Mr. Maddock's counts are unknown (See Gongwer Michigan Report, November 1, 2021).

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