Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Half of Trump-backed candidates win Michigan Legislature races

Former President Donald Trump's efforts to reshape the Michigan Legislature met with mixed results on Tuesday, as two of three incumbents he targeted survived challenges.
  • Two of three state legislative incumbents survived challenges from Trump-endorsed candidates
  • In total, five of 10 candidates Trump endorsed in state Legislature advanced through GOP primaries.
  • Jacky Eubanks, a Trump endorsee who would ban birth control, lost her bid for state House

Former President Donald Trump’s efforts to reshape the Michigan Legislature were a mixed bag on Tuesday, as five of 10 candidates he endorsed won, while two of three incumbents survived challenges from candidates he backed.

One Trump endorsee, Jonathan Lindsey of Bronson, defeated sitting state Sen. Kim LaSata in the 17th District GOP primary, taking more than 60 percent of the vote with nearly all precincts reporting. 

The two other incumbents facing Trump-endorsed opponents, Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton and Rep. Greg VanWoerkom of Norton Shores, handily defeated Mike Detmer in the 22nd and Mick Bricker in the 88th, respectively.

Related:

In another open House seat  in northern Macomb and southern St. Clair counties, Trump endorsee Jacky Eubanks — who gained national notoriety for saying she would favor a ban on birth control — was defeated by Jay DeBoyer, 45.6 percent to 29.1 percent.

Many observers ahead of Michigan’s Aug. 2 primaries said the Trump factor is a powerful tool for GOP primary candidates, especially if candidates are able to present themselves as more conservative than their opponents. 

But fundraising, name recognition and clear messaging still had sway with voters, too. In the 22nd state Senate district, for example, Theis’ campaign spent heavily to fend off challenges to her conservative credentials. 

The endorsements didn’t necessarily translate into fundraising boosts — campaign finance records indicate incumbents and newcomers alike posted higher fundraising numbers than their Trump-backed opponents, buoyed by support from groups affiliated with the DeVos family and others.

In three open state House districts, Trump endorsees came out the victor, including Rachelle Smit of Martin, Angela Rigas of Caledonia and Mike Hoadley of Au Gres. 

As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian Begole was winning over Trump-endorsed Kevin Rathbun in the 71st state House District, leading 46.2 percent to Rathbun’s 36 percent. Most of the outstanding votes to be counted in the race are from Shiawassee County.

Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford, a Trump-backed Republican with close ties to the former president, ran uncontested.

Another Trump-endorsed candidate, Jon Rocha, failed to qualify for the ballot in the 78th state House but ran as a write-in. Gina Johnsen of Lake Odessa ultimately won the race, while Rocha finished fourth. 

We're not just a news organization, we're also your neighbors

We’ve been there for you with daily Michigan COVID-19 news; reporting on the emergence of the virus, daily numbers with our tracker and dashboard, exploding unemployment, and we finally were able to report on mass vaccine distribution. We report because the news impacts all of us. Will you please support our nonprofit newsroom?

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now