Michigan Republicans set for convention as leadership dispute causes confusion


Michigan Republicans are gathering for their state convention Saturday in Grand Rapids — but also in Battle Creek and Houghton Lake, and potentially in Detroit, too.

A months-long Michigan Republican Party leadership battle has spilled into the party’s process of awarding its presidential delegates, with angry factions claiming they’ll hold congressional district-level meetings instead of attending the statewide event.

There is little drama about the end result: Former President Donald Trump is likely to pick up most, if not all, of the 39 delegates to the Republican National Convention that are at stake Saturday.

But the chaos engulfing the Republican Party this weekend in one of the nation’s most important presidential swing states is a vivid window into what some strategists and party leaders warn could become a serious problem for the GOP if it’s not fixed ahead of November’s general election.

“Would it be great if there was a state party? Absolutely,” Michigan Republican strategist Stu Sandler quipped.

The dispute is centered on the state party’s decision to remove former chairwoman Kristina Karamo in January and replace her with Pete Hoekstra, a former ambassador and congressman.

Karamo – the failed Republican secretary of state nominee who has spent years parroting Trump’s election fraud falsehoods – had been elected to the post a year earlier as part of a grassroots takeover of the state GOP. But her tenure was mired in controversy, and it ended with the party facing financial turmoil and infighting, culminating in her January ouster.

Hoekstra was endorsed by Trump and recognized as the state party chair by the Republican National Committee. However, Karamo for weeks refused to step aside — arguing that the vote had taken place at an illegitimate meeting of the Michigan Republican Party state committee.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge J. Joseph Rossi this week said Karamo was properly removed from her position on January 6, and ordered her to stop describing herself as the party chair. She also lost access to the party’s bank accounts and postal boxes.

She told reporters outside the courtroom that she had no choice but to comply with the judge’s order.

“I’m not going to jail,” she said, according to videos of her comments posted to social media by Michigan news outlets.

The legal battle over control of the Michigan Republican Party also raised questions about how the party would award 39 of its 55 presidential delegates — scheduled to be at stake at a Saturday caucus convention.

Karamo had scheduled a convention in Detroit. But Hoekstra scheduled one for the same day and time in Grand Rapids.

Ultimately, after days of back-and-forth — with delegates who’d already booked travel plans caught in the middle — the Detroit convention appears to be off. A Cheboygan County judge on Thursday rejected Karamo general counsel Daniel Hartman’s request for an order invalidating the Grand Rapids convention.

By Friday morning, the venue Karamo’s aides had booked — Huntington Place, a popular convention center in Detroit — had been canceled, a spokeswoman for Huntington Place said.

Still, delegations from 24 counties missed the deadline to register for the caucus convention in Grand Rapids, and as of Friday were set to be denied credentials to attend.

That left leaders of the 1st and 4th District Republican parties organizing their own Saturday conventions. Northern Michigan’s 1st District GOP planned to gather in Houghton Lake, while the 4th District was planning a meeting in Battle Creek, said 4th District chairman Ken Beyer.

In a fiery video posted to Rumble, Beyer referred to the state party chairman as “Adolf Hoekstra” and called Karamo’s ouster as party chairwoman a “political lynching.”

“He wouldn’t let them in because we are the deplorables. We are the backbone of the Trump movement,” Beyer said, ignoring Trump’s endorsement of Hoekstra.

“Now it is time to turn our backs on them. We don’t need them. We don’t need the state party for anything. They need us,” he said. “We are refusing to bend the knee to him. We will not attend his mock convention. We will hold our district caucus in the safety of our own backyards.”

Hoekstra, meanwhile, said he was seeking to resolve the dispute over the counties that had missed the registration deadline.

“We are continuing to investigate ways to allow delegates to participate on Saturday even though rules for credentialing were not followed,” Hoekstra said Friday afternoon on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “I want a strong and unified party moving forward. That’s my goal, hope others agree that’s what we need to win in November.”

Karamo, in a video posted to X on Friday night, accused Hoekstra of “tyrannical behavior” and said he is to blame for “massive confusion” because he scheduled the convention in Grand Rapids, rather than keeping the already-booked Detroit location.

She urged Michigan Republican delegates to follow the advice of their congressional district party chairs on where to go Saturday.

She also vowed to continue her legal battle to retake control of the state GOP, saying that “this fight is not over.”

The Saturday meeting in Grand Rapids — and potentially, GOP gatherings elsewhere — comes five days after Trump bested former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in Michigan’s primary.

The state is awarding its delegates through a split process, with 16 up for grabs in the primary and the remaining 39 to be decided Saturday; three will go to the winner of each of the state’s 13 congressional districts. Trump is the heavy favorite across the entire state Saturday.

The split contests are the result of Republicans’ reaction to Democrats’ decision to shake up the party’s presidential nominating calendar after the 2020 election — demoting Iowa and New Hampshire, moving South Carolina and Nevada to the forefront and placing Michigan third in its new lineup.

Republicans opposed an earlier Michigan primary, and it violated Republican National Committee rules limiting which states can hold contests before March 1. After Democrats who control the legislature and the governor’s office moved the Michigan primary to February 27 despite the GOP opposition, the RNC and Michigan GOP came up with the hybrid model.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *