Waterford— Oakland County Republican Party officials beefed up security for a county convention Thursday night in anticipation of a potential political clash with tea party activists, which didn’t surface in the first few hours.
Rank-and-file Republicans from across the state gathered for county conventions Thursday night to choose delegates for the Michigan Republican Party’s Aug. 23 state convention in Novi.
Delegates elected to attend the state convention could decide whether Gov. Rick Snyder gets to keep Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on the ticket or whether he has to seek re-election with Hartland tea party leader Wes Nakagiri.
There were no disturbances during the first two hours of the Oakland County GOP convention, though tea party activists took control of a meeting of Republican delegates from the 11th Congressional District.
Jim Thienel, chairman of the Oakland County GOP, said the party brought in “significant paid security” to help keep the peace at the county convention, held at Oakland Schools’ campus in Waterford. At the start of the meeting, Thienel got grumbles from the crowd after he announced the added security measures.
Waterford Township sent at least six uniformed police officers and an undisclosed number of plainclothes officers, which the county party will pay for, Thienel said.
“The tea party people have advocated throwing chairs if they don’t get what they want,” Thienel told The Detroit News before the meeting.
About 2,135 state convention delegates choose the GOP’s candidates for lieutenant governor, statewide education boards, attorney general and secretary of state.
Convention delegates normally select the governor’s choice for a running mate. But Nakagiri and other vocal conservative critics of Snyder have promised to make a credible challenge at the state convention.
“This is going to be a blatant attempt to purge the Republican Party in Oakland County of conservatives,” said Matt Maddock, a Milford resident who lost a Republican primary last week to Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake. “We’re not going to go down without a fight.”
During the 11th District caucus meeting, Maddock’s supporters elected him chairman of the district’s convention, ousting the presiding chairwoman, Melissa Fazio Bogdalek, a member of the Oakland County GOP executive committee.