The incident laid bare the divisions in the party that had been growing and lurking during Democrat Jennifer Granholm’s two terms (2003-2011). In 2012, racist homophobe Dave Agema defeated incumbent Saul Anuzis (now head of 60 Plus, the GOP’s counter to the AARP), for a coveted seat on the Republican National Committee. The MIGOP state committee, essentially a board of directors, became populated with miscreants and several actual convicted felons, including one who served time for extortion and conspiracy, another for financial fraud that included theft from his mother, still another mini-Bernie Madoff felon who was ordered to pay $285 million in restitution at his sentencing, and yet another, this one elected a party vice-chair, who had been convicted after shooting a man and also previously faced two counts of assault with intent to commit murder in a separate incident.

Tea Party gadfly Todd Courser went on in 2014 to win election to the Michigan House of Representatives where his service ended in less than a year: He was expelled following a bizarre sex scandal that gained national attention when Courser illegally used his staff to create rumors of his involvement with a male prostitute to distract from an affair he was having with a female GOP state representative. Courser was charged with four felonies, tried on two, and ultimately pleaded to a misdemeanor and lost his law license.

Not every up-and-coming figure in the state GOP was quite this bad, of course, but in the years after 2010, the state party came to be defined not by its sensible conservative moderation but by its unhinged populism and ethically challenged characters.