Michigan ‘Stop the Steal’ Power Couple Signals Trumpism Will Outlive Trump in GOP

State Rep. Matt Maddock and his wife Meshawn, scheduled to become co-chair of Michigan GOP

If you’ve been wondering how President Donald Trump’s devoted followers will shape the Republican Party in the future, one answer can be found in Michigan conspiracy-theorist power couple Matt and Meshawn Maddock: he is a state representative who fought to disenfranchise Michigan’s voters to assist Trump in overturning the election, and she is an incoming co-chair of the state party who organized busloads of people to travel to rallies in D.C. meant to stop congressional affirmation of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

The day after the assault on the Capitol, the Detroit News noted that the Maddocks, who had “been at the center of the campaign to overturn Michigan’s presidential election,” were “poised to see their political influence among state Republicans grow in the coming weeks.”

Meshawn, who was on the national advisory board of Women for Trump, was recently described by Bridge Michigan as “an unapologetic firebrand who has described political compromise as weakness” and one of “many once-fringe activists who have worked their way into the upper echelons of the Michigan Republican Party under Trump.” A commentator at WXYZ noted that “her rise in the state politics coincides with Donald Trump’s,” adding, “So too does her taste for conspiracy theories, falsehoods about Michigan’s election and expert use of social media.”

“I feel like it’s time for conservatives to start using the same tactics that the left has used for a long time, and I don’t want to be passive about it anymore,” Meshawn told Bridge last year. “I’m really not interested in bipartisan or reaching-across-the-aisle politics. The world is divided right now, and I’m OK with it, because the truth is, I feel like I’m on the right side.”

On New Year’s Day, Meshawn tweeted, “Good morning January 1st, 1776,” promoting a Revolutionary War theme used by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the presidential election results. On Jan. 5, the day before congressional counting of Electoral College votes was interrupted by a deadly insurrection, the Maddocks appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally that mingled Christian nationalism, Trumpism, COVID-19 denialism, and threats of violence—including the “1776” theme.

At the rally, which Meshawn called “the party before the party,” she declared Trump to be “the greatest president this nation will ever know.” She told the crowd that 19 buses were heading from Michigan to Washington for Trump’s rally the following day.

She asked what the people flooding into Washington at Trump’s call had in common, and her answer was that “we have the scales lifted off our eyes, do we not? Somehow, we are able to see what other people can’t see. It’s our job to show that to them.”

“And no matter what happens today and tomorrow, I know that God reigns,” she said. “We trust the Lord. But you know what? We never stop fighting.”

Her parting advice to the crowd: “Do not believe the fake news.”

Matt Maddock didn’t say much at the rally, but he did talk about a letter that some Republican lawmakers were sending to Vice President Mike Pence that day, telling him “not to certify the Michigan electors”—which would have effectively disenfranchised the state’s voters.

“You know, we don’t know if this is going to work, but you know what? This entire process has been taking one step at a time and doing the right thing after the right thing after the right thing—and there aren’t a lot of people out there doing the right thing in our legislature.” (In reality, the demand that Pence assert power he did not have under law or the Constitution was not “the right thing,” as Pence himself recognized in refusing Trump’s demand that he unilaterally reject the certified electors from battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden.)

Matt has been an energetic promoter of conspiracy theories about a “stolen” election. He was one of a dozen Michigan Republican lawmakers who asked the U.S. Supreme Court to require legislative certification of the already-certified results. He has also downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 and tried but failed to start impeachment proceedings against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her handling of the pandemic.

The Detroit news noted that on Jan. 6, before violence broke out, Meshawn praised the crowd on social media and shared a video in which someone could be heard in the background yelling, “We need to march on the Capitol when we’re done here and drag these people out of power.”

Following the insurrection, Meshawn put out a statement criticizing the violence and saying, “The actions of those who stormed the Capitol were wrong and hurt the president and his legacy.”

On Jan. 9, a Michigan labor activist noted that on Parler, a social media site favored by right-wing activists, Meshawn had echoed a message quoting Mike Flynn saying, “Trump will remain president.”

“It’s all apologies and prepared statements on Twitter, but over on Parler, incoming Michigan GOP chair Meshawn Maddock is still busily spreading conspiratorial nonsense about Trump remaining president,” tweeted Joshua Pugh, communications director of the Michigan AFL-CIO.

“Trump’s supporters have acted for years like politics is a game to them and like their actions don’t have consequences, so it’s appropriate that now after losing power at all levels, they are doubling down on Trump,” Pugh told Right Wing Watch. “Unfortunately, those consequences for the rest of us include a plot to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan, and a US Capitol Police officer dying at the hands of a mob.”

The Maddocks’ activities have gotten some unflattering attention at home. The Detroit Free Press reported last week that they had “joined a Facebook group where members have discussed the possibility of a civil war, decried a ban on open carry inside the state Capitol and hope for a ‘big cleanup’ of elected leaders.”

“The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has called for Matt’s resignation, claiming he bears responsibility for the assault on the Capitol,” the Free Press reported. “Meanwhile, Meshawn has faced pressure to withdraw as a candidate to serve as the state’s GOP co-chair.”

Matt Maddock responded to Democrats’ call for him to face censure or expulsion by saying, “I’m glad the House does not disenfranchise voters and remove their representatives for merely attending a political prayer rally.”

Some Republicans have “called for Ron Weiser, who’s running unopposed for chair of the state party with Meshawn as his co-chair, to replace her on the ticket.”

Meanwhile, The Hill noted that the state GOP is trying to replace Aaron Van Langevelde, a Republican on the Board of State Canvassers who defied right-wing demands and voted to certify Biden’s victory.

Matt and Meshawn Maddock at Jan. 5, 2021 Stop the Steal Rally from Right Wing Watch on Vimeo.