Garrett Soldano joins Matt DePerno's bid to lead the Michigan GOP

Lansing — Garrett Soldano, a former candidate for Michigan governor, will run for co-chairman of the Michigan Republican Party on a ticket with former attorney general hopeful Matt DePerno who is seeking to lead the state GOP.

DePerno and Soldano announced their campaign on Tuesday afternoon. Michigan Republicans will select their party's next leaders at a convention in February.

In an interview Tuesday, Soldano, a chiropractor from Kalamazoo County and a favorite among the grassroots wing of the GOP, said he and DePerno want to unite the party and get people from "all walks of life" involved.

"Anyone who wants to run for any level of office, we’re going to have an equal playing field," Soldano said.

The Michigan GOP's current chairman, Ron Weiser, is not seeking another term. His co-chairwoman is Meshawn Maddock. Tuscola County Republican Party Chairman Billy Putnam is already running for state party chairman, and others could join the race.

State Republicans suffered a string of defeats in the Nov. 8 election, including Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer winning a second term over Republican challenger Tudor Dixon by nearly 11 percentage points.

DePerno, who lost to Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel by 8 points, announced his campaign for party chair on Nov. 14.

DePerno has gathered a loyal following among GOP delegates, but a special prosecutor is currently considering criminal charges against him and eight others over an alleged conspiracy to gain improper access to voting machines.

Dixon also is mulling a bid
for state party chair.

The co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party is effectively the chair's deputy and becomes acting chair temporarily if there's a vacancy.

Soldano, who gained the spotlight by speaking out on social media against Whitmer's COVID-19 policies, finished in third place in the August primary election for the GOP nomination for governor. During the primary campaign, Soldano criticized Dixon for being endorsed by west Michigan's powerful DeVos family, top donors to Michigan Republican causes.

Asked about the DeVos influence and his past comments, Soldano said his approach as co-chairman would be to pursue level playing fields in primaries and then to support the Republican winners in the general election races.