Lansing (Great Lakes News) – Michigan Republicans are betting on President Donald Trump’s message to carry votes in districts that flipped Democrat in 2018. By focusing on economic language and reaching out to previously neglected voters, Republicans in Michigan’s 11th congressional district plan on returning the 11th to its reputation as a red stronghold. At the center of their strategy are candidates like Whittney Williams and national figures like Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
Michigan’s 11th congressional district is a precarious seat for both Republicans and Democrats. The 11th was safely Republican for years, turning Democratic in the 2018 “Blue Wave” that saw suburban and women Republicans vote against well-established trends. Congresswoman Haley Stevens won the district by 6 points. A sizable victory considering that her predecessor, Republican David Trott, won the district by 12 points in 2016. Republicans hope that Whittney Williams will win back those voters who abandoned the Republican party in 2018.
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Whittney Williams is a Canton resident, actor, and first-generation Taiwanese immigrant who launched her campaign earlier this week. Her public image is primarily focused on her former status as an undocumented immigrant and her support for American economic prosperity.
“I am running for Congress because I love our country, believe in the American Dream, and want to fight back against the radical left’s socialist agenda,” Williams said. “This country has given me everything, and I hope to have the opportunity to give back by defending the Constitution and our fundamental American values.”
Her campaign website describes her as “pro-American and anti-socialism”,“pro-fair trade”, and “pro-border security.” These positions align well with the primary themes of the Republican’s 2020 strategy.
“We have record low unemployment, and we have the highest number of employment for minorities in history,” said Michigan’s 11th congressional district Republicans chair Meshawn Maddock. “Those numbers speak for themselves, we just need to remind people of it and they need to hear it. If they tune into leftist media, they are not going to hear it. They might be feeling it, but they won’t be hearing it. It’s our job that they are hearing a message of prosperity, hope, and American exceptionalism.”
Maddock believes that Williams is uniquely equipped to communicate this message to the 11th, especially to minority voters.
“She understands the president’s message of prosperity and she’s lived it,” Maddock said. “She’s gone to a lot of different groups of people and has been an encouragement to them. And because of her, we’ve brought a lot more minority people into our 11th meetings. She thinks that prosperity is something the Indian and Asian community need to hear about and that once they realize they’ve kinda been fooled they’ll be more interested.”
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In addition to attracting minority voters and galvanizing others through proper messaging, Republicans hope to attract the moderates they lost in 2018 by placing a spotlight on the records of Democratic candidates. Republican’s lost districts like the 11th because of an exodus of moderate, and less Trump inclined, Republicans. By painting Stevens as a radical, Republicans seem poised to attract those former-Republican voters who are turned off by more explosive political rhetoric. William’s team can focus on the economy, infrastructural improvements, and the rise of socialism in the Democratic party to sway more “kitchen table issue” voters.
“The people of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District deserve a representative who shares their values and fights for common sense solutions, not a phony moderate like Haley Stevens who votes lock-step with the liberal ‘Squad’ and Speaker Pelosi nearly 100 percent of the time,” said Scott Hagerstrom, Chief Strategist for the Whittney Williams for Congress campaign and former Michigan State Director for the 2016 Trump campaign.
““The 11th has always been a typically solid conservative and independent area,” Maddock said. “It’s our job to get out the message that we are the party of reason and not the party of crazy. The Democrats are revealing themselves every single day. I’m confident that Republican voters are going to show up, if nothing else, to stop the crazy that’s coming from the socialist left right now.”
To assist Williams’ campaign chances, the 11th district Republicans are employing the help of Charlie Kirk. Kirk will speak in Oakland, Michigan in late September. His organization TPUSA is a leading organizer of young conservatives. He makes regular appearances on Fox News and other national media outlets as a “young conservative.” Kirk’s national summits feature speeches from Trump administration bigwigs like Eric Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and the president himself. Many mainline conservative organizations decry TPUSA’s methods and messaging, but their support from organizations centered on the president is unwavering. Every year TPUSA collects millions of dollars from a vast donor web that includes members of the DeVos family. If anything, Kirk draws crowds.
““The number one focus of the event for me as the chair is to raise funds,” Maddock said. “Let’s be clear, I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than that. It’s a fundraiser and raising funds is going to help us support our candidates. Names like Charlie Kirk bring in a lot of people, I’m expecting a packed room.”
While Kirk’s positions may primarily appeal to established Republican voters, Maddock believes that his message could serve district Republicans by invigorating young voters.
“I honestly believe that reaching young voters, and encouraging young conservatives to be bolder is very important,” Maddock said. “I don’t see him as just pandering to our base, I believe that a lot of young people are very curious about him. do believe that by bringing him in, we are reaching new people.”
While Kirk does represent a dedication to the president’s political messaging, the other speaker may be more indicative of the Republican’s statewide strategy. The event is titled “An Evening with Charlie Kirk,” but the name is not exactly accurate. The evening will also feature a speech from Jeff Webb. Webb is the founder of The New American Populist. TNAP is an organization dedicated to providing a developed policy platform for right-leaning “populist” candidates. Webb advocates for “fair and reciprocal trade,” the securing of the southern border, antitrust policies, and putting an end to “endless wars.” His organization serves as the intellectual foundation of a movement to change the role of government without reducing its scope that has become increasingly popular in Republican circles. The issues section of William’s website employs similar vocabulary. Vocabulary that defines the 2020 election, in Michigan and nationally.
“We are committed to the re-election of President Donald J. Trump in 2020,” said Maddock. “Events like this help us promote wonderful Republican candidates in the 11th District.”