Barnes wins third term as MDP chair, party endorses repealing Right to Work ⋆

Lavora Barnes was reelected on Saturday to lead the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) during the party’s spring state convention that was held at Huntington Place in Detroit. 

State Rep. Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) will serve as first vice-chair and State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) will serve as second vice-chair. 

“I am deeply appreciative of the Michigan Democrats for entrusting me to serve another term as the chair of the greatest state party in the country,” Barnes. “I am looking forward to working alongside my new vice chairs and all Democrats to protect, elect, and reelect Democrats up and down the ticket, from every corner of this state.”

“It was important to me that we build a bridge between the party and the Democratic-led state House and state Senate by electing Rep. Morgan and Sen. Geiss to the MDP’s leadership team,” Barnes added. Geiss, who is Afro-Latina is also chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. 

State Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) speaking at the Michigan Caregiver Rights Rally on Sept. 15, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

Barnes, the first Black woman to serve as MDP chair, ran unopposed. Former state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit), who also is an African American woman, announced in January that she would seek to replace Barnes as leader of the party but not secure the required number of petition signatures to qualify for the contest. Johnson attempted to call for a point of order during the convention nomination process but she was rebuffed. 

She later told the Advance party officials sought to keep her off the ballot. 

“Johnson failed to attain access to the ballot by not gathering enough signatures on her petition,” Barnes told the Advance after the convention. “Hundreds of MDP members saw and declined the opportunity to sign her petition. Every member was presented with all the petitions at the same time.”

Barnes was endorsed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who won reelection last year by nearly 11 points. 

Barnes moved to Michigan in 2001 and has worked for Michigan House Democrats and former President Barack Obama’s campaign. She has previously served as MDP’s chief operating officer and has been hailed for her leadership since being elected as chair in 2019. During her tenure, Barnes has overseen efforts to help President Joe Biden, a Democrat, win back Michigan from Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race. 

Simultaneously, her leadership helped to ensure Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson win second terms in 2022. In addition, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Meanwhile, MDP officially adopted during the convention a “Resolution to Restore Worker Freedom and Collective Bargaining Rights to Michigan’s Workers.” 

Republicans passed Right to Work in 2012 in a lame duck session and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder quickly signed it. More than 10,000 union members and supporters protested the move at the Capitol, which made international news.

Lavora Barnes was reelected as Michigan Democratic Party chair on Saturday in Detroit. State Rep. Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) will serve as 1st vice-chair and State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) will serve as 2nd vice-chair. | Ken Coleman

“The Michigan AFL-CIO applauds the Michigan Democratic Party for affirming its commitment to restoring worker freedom in Michigan,” said Ron Bieber, AFL-CIO president. “The rights of working people have been under attack for decades at the hands of politicians bought and paid for by Betsy DeVos and the megarich. 

State Republicans will also pick a new chair this month, as current Chair Ron Weiser isn’t running again. Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, a close Trump ally, also has said she won’t seek the top post.

Matt DePerno, who lost his attorney general bid by 9 points, is running for chair alongside Garrett Soldano, who lost the Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary in August. 

Other candidates include Kristina Karamo, who lost her secretary of state bid by 14 points, and Lena Epstein, who lost bids for the University of Michigan Board of Regent and the U.S. House. 

Tuscola County GOP Chair Billy Putman, who also has been on reality TV, is running, as is Macomb County GOP Chair Mark Forton; longtime GOP consultant Scott Greenlee, Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association President Mike Farage; Ravenna Village Trustee Kent Boersema; IT specialist JD Glaser; Kent County GOP activist Drew Born; and Scott Aughney, who ran for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.



authored by Susan J. Demas
First published at

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