Bill Ballenger, a former Republican state representative and senator, said Tuesday’s primary confirmed Trump was maintaining a grip on Republican voters.
“Republican voters, especially in special elections, would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Trump than not,” Ballenger said. “It gives these guys a natural advantage that they didn’t have when they showed up before. I think that probably marked the margin of victory.
Referenced Ballenger a recent poll of 539 Republican voters by Mitchell Research and Communications which found that 80% would be more likely to support a GOP candidate who supports Trump.
Mekoski, whose campaign office is in Shelby Township and who has previously lost campaigns for Oakland County Sheriff and the state Senate, won a close race against Sylvia Grot. The House seat has been vacant since last fall, when Republican Rep. Doug Wozniak of Shelby Township won the state Senate election.
Mekoski was backed by Melissa Carone, an election conspiracy theorist whose December 2020 State House testimony alongside Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was later parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Carone waged an online smear campaign against Grot, an immigrant, calling her a “mail-order bride with no education” who “barely speaks English”.
Mekoski supporters also lambasted Grot’s husband, Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot, portraying him as a “swamp” Republican because Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser allegedly paid him with funds from the left to drop his bid for secretary of state in 2018.
Mekoski will face Democrat James Diaz in May’s general election.
In an upset few saw coming, Grand Rapids’ Regan defeated Steven Gilbert, who was the GOP frontrunner and had the endorsements of several sitting lawmakers.
On his Facebook page, Regan shared conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, which he wants to decertify, and this week called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “fake war, just like the fake pandemic”.
Regan told Bridge he did not trust the government and if elected he would work to remove the governor’s emergency powers. Governor Gretchen Whitmer used these emergency powers to close restaurants, offices and hair salons for 70 days during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was never an emergency, so there’s no reason for it,” Regan said. “We shouldn’t have had the warrants, we shouldn’t have had the closures, we shouldn’t have had the mass vaccinations. All of this would never have happened because it was nothing worse than the flu.
On its website, Regan says it wants to make English the official language of Michigan and prevent the use of other languages on government forms, documents and ballots.
Regan ran for the House seat in 2014, 2018 and 2020, when he made national news because his his daughter urged voters to oppose him. He will face Democrat Carol Glanville in the general election in May. The winner replaces Mark Huizenga, who won the state Senate election last fall.
“Sometimes weird things can happen if you persist and keep running,” Ballenger said. “You can create a surprise in a special election, like this, because voter turnout is definitely low.”