SAN DIEGO–Longtime Michigan Republican Saul Anuzis lost his seat on the Republican National Committee during a Tea Party uprising in his state in 2012. The man who replaced him, former state Representative Dave Agema, was censured this week by the national party after making a series of racially charged statements and social media posts.
Walking through the party's winter meeting at a 19th century beach resort, Anuzis is in full told-you-so mode.
"A few years ago, we knew where he was coming from, but didn't know what he was going to say," Anuzis said. "He comes form one of the most isolated, conservative districts in the state. Many questioned whether he’d have the experience, knowledge and know-how to do this."
"And this isn’t a one-time mistake," Anuzis said. "It's multiple times he’s done this."
RNC Chairman Reince Preibus took the unprecedented step of calling on Agema to resign last year after posting passages from an article that claimed gay men and women live a "filthy lifestyle."
"Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?" he asked on Facebook.
In a Facebook post on New Year's Eve, he quoted from an essay from American Renaissance, a white-supremacist newsletter.
"Dave Agema's history of harmful and offensive rhetoric has no place in our party, which is why the RNC Executive Committee acted in the swiftest way possible to avoid giving him a platform," Priebus said in a statement. "We have voted to censure him, and we are urging the Michigan GOP and their voters to explore options to discipline Agema for his actions. Today, we used all available tools to remove him from the committee."
Agema responded with a statement that began: "The truth is held from you. I felt compelled to deliver the truth behind the uproar." He repeated his assertions that he did not necessarily agree with the articles he posted.
Republicans say their rules have no way to remove Agema from the national committee, which is generally assembled by local party elections in each state. Several state party leaders have said they're going to take a second look at those rules.
"If the party’s leadership is perceived to be in any way bigoted or racist ,that perception causes us problems," Anuzis said. "Michigan is a purple state that can go red under the right circumstances. But we need to appeal an independent voter class, as well as our large percentage of minorities in our state. Tone matters in this game."
"It's an unnecessary distraction at a time when we're trying to grow our party."