GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has emerged as President-elect Donald Trump’s favorite to head the party, appearing on Friday at a rally attended by him as part of his “thank you” tour.
The Republican National Committee will soon have a vacancy at the top of the party as current chairman Reince Priebus becomes White House chief of staff when Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
While Trump did not signal his support for McDaniel at the rally, two party officials said he is pushing for her. McDaniel is a niece of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The Trump transition team had no immediate comment.
The officials said Trump appreciated the role McDaniel played in helping deliver the state of Michigan for him in the Nov. 8 election.
In a speech that preceded Trump’s remarks in Grand Rapids, McDaniel celebrated the end to a vote recount effort in Michigan by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“The recount in Michigan is over. The election is over. Our next president is Donald J. Trump,” she said. “Winning once was nice. But winning twice was huge.”
In his remarks, Trump expressed gratitude to Michigan voters for helping him win the presidency.
“We’re in your debt and we will never let you down,” he said.
Until this year, Michigan had not voted Republican since 1988. Trump won the Midwestern state by little more than 10,000 votes, and the state’s 16 electoral votes were critical to his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The Republican National Committee’s 168 elected members will choose their next chair at a meeting in mid-January, but they will be influenced by Trump’s view on who should head the party.
Another popular choice among party regulars is Matt Pinnell, the former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and David Shepardson; Editing by Mary Milliken)