She’s facing possible indictment for her alleged role in the scheme to overturn the 2020 election. Meanwhile, the Michigan Republican Party suffered a historic “ass-kicking” at the polls last November under her leadership.
Surely, Meshawn Maddock’s influence within the state GOP is at an end—right?
Wrong, say some party activists and left-of-MAGA dissenters, who claim Maddock—the party’s co-chair and ideological leader for the past two years—may have a poison pill to force down the throat of the party faithful.
That pill, they say, is her 22-year-old son-in-law, Parker Shonts, who is seeking election as youth vice chair when Michigan Republicans convene for their state convention next month in Lansing.
While the position itself is largely seen as ceremonial, and the vast majority of attention is being paid to the race for the next chair of the party, skeptics see Shonts’ candidacy as a proxy to affirm Maddock’s continued influence.
In other words, some Republicans say, Shonts stands for doubling down on the same far-right, election-denying politics that may have doomed the party last fall.
Tom Stroup is a former county and district chairman in the Michigan Republican Party who’s been involved in the state GOP for 22 years. He is also an elected precinct delegate in Northville Township who will be casting a ballot for the party’s new leader.
If there’s one thing Stroup hopes will occur at the convention, it’s an end to the reign of Meshawn Maddock and her husband, Republican State Rep. Matt Maddock.
“I have known the Maddocks long before they came to power in the Michigan Republican Party, and they have been a problem in our party basically since day one,” Stroup told The Daily Beast.
Stroup says that Maddock’s faction, and those who have supported her, are getting smaller every day since Michigan Democrats trounced Republican candidates for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.
“Meshawn did such a poor job as co-chair of the party,” he said, suggesting that Shonts’ candidacy “is a part of trying a power play to try and stay in power in some form.”
When asked if Shonts was simply a mouthpiece for his in-laws, Stroup didn’t hesitate to answer. “I think that is a good way to put it. That’s just another Maddock to me.”
When asked via email to comment for this story, Shonts responded only with the following: “The Daily Beast is a trash publication and you should be ashamed for working there.” Meshawn Maddock—who has not been charged with any crimes—responded with the exact same language as her son-in-law.
Of course, some of the post-election circular firing squad has focused on outgoing party chair Ron Weiser, who has a scandal-plagued history of his own that includes labeling the women atop the state government “witches.” Tudor Dixon, the party’s failed gubernatorial candidate, blasted Weiser (and Maddock) for the party’s midterm debacle.
Like Weiser, Maddock has indicated that she will not be running to be the next chair. Instead, she said, she will be “laser focused on winning Michigan for Trump.”
Some party activists aren’t buying it.
Shonts, who married the Maddocks’ daughter Parker last summer, has shown every inclination to engage in the type of culture war conflict his mother-in-law is well-known for—and that some Republicans think the party has to move on from.
Whether issuing a “Groomer Alert” when reposting a Libs of TikTok attack on the LGBTQ community, referring to Kwanzaa as a “fake holiday,”or calling those opposed to him “low-T, anti-family Republicans,” Shonts easily mirrors Meshawn’s shoot-from-the-hip style.
He also shares what is likely a very important trait with the Maddocks, and certainly with the Trump wing of the national GOP: a history of election-denying.
For starters, there’s the crowd backing him. Shonts has been endorsed by a host of election deniers, including My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and Michigan GOP District Chair Shane Trejo. The latter—who, as The Daily Beast reported, hosted a podcast with a member of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa—called for the ouster of a fellow Republican who voted to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 win.
Shonts was also on the proverbial front lines in the attempt to question an election himself, indicating he was “present challenging ballots at the TCF Center in Detroit during the pivotal 2020 election.” At the time, he tweeted it was a “#RiggedElection.”