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Michigan election conspiracy theorists win GOP nominations for key state positions

Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo, who believe the 2020 presidential election was ‘stolen’ from Donald Trump, would be in charge of running elections and defending election law in Michigan.

By Emily Singer - April 25, 2022
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Matthew DePerno
Matthew DePerno, Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, speaks during rally at the Michigan State Capitol, Oct. 12, 2021, in Lansing, Mich

Two election conspiracy theorists in Michigan won Republican endorsements for critical state positions that would put them in charge of running elections and defending election law.

Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo won the GOP endorsement for attorney general and secretary of state, respectively, at a nominating convention on Saturday. Both Republicans will face off against Democratic incumbents in the swing state, which Biden won by a 3-point margin in 2020.

In Michigan, voters do not choose the nominees for attorney general or secretary of state. Rather, a group of party insiders hand-picks the nominees at a party convention. DePerno and Karamo won the endorsements after a vote of roughly 2,000 GOP delegates, which put them on a glide path to winning the nomination at a second nominating convention in August, according to local media outlets.

Both DePerno and Karamo were endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who has made his picks based on whether candidates support his lies that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.

DePerno — who would be the top law enforcement officer in the state — filed an unsuccessful lawsuit making the baseless claim that there was widespread voter fraud in Antrim County, Michigan, in 2020. That lawsuit helped fuel false conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems voting machines and furthered the lie that Trump was the true winner in the 2020 election.

DePerno’s lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in 2021. Two days before winning the GOP endorsement, DePerno lost his appeal of the case. A state court ruled that DePerno’s lawsuit “raised a series of questions about the election without making any specific factual allegations as required.”

DePerno is challenging Democrat Dana Nessel in the race to be Michigan’s top law enforcement official.

“Even I am at a loss for words at this ridiculous turn of events. Running the State of Michigan is a serious business and these are clear[l]y not serious or competent people,” Nessel tweeted on Saturday. “God help us if this party takes over our executive offices.”

Karamo, who earned the state GOP’s endorsement to be Michigan’s next secretary of state, is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and self-described “anti-vaxxer” who opposes schools teaching the theory of evolution. She has also made bigoted anti-LGBTQ remarks, including saying that both LGBTQ people as well as unmarried people who have sex “violate God’s creative design” and are the product of a culture of “sexual brokenness.”

Karamo rose to prominence in Republican circles because she claimed that she witnessed votes being switched from Trump to President Joe Biden during Michigan’s ballot counting in the 2020 election — a lie that experts said was just Karamo not understanding how the election process works. With the state GOP’s endorsement, Karamo will now face current Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in the race to oversee Michigan’s elections.

Benson tweeted on Monday that her race is now “ground zero in the battle over the future of our democracy.”

Some Michigan Republicans have expressed fears that DePerno and Karamo’s extreme views will make them unelectable in the fall.

“Every ad from April 24 through November is going to say ‘QAnon Karamo is too crazy for us,'” Republican state Rep. Beau LaFave, who also ran for secretary of state, said at the convention on Saturday.

DePerno and Karamo are not the only election deniers running for attorney general and secretary of state positions across the country.

In Arizona, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for secretary of state is Mark Finchem, who has pushed the lie that Trump won Arizona in the 2020 election. Finchem, who has claimed that the election was “rigged,” was in attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The congressional committee investigating the attack has subpoenaed Finchem for his involvement in the event.

And in Nevada, Republican election denier Jim Marchant is hoping to run the state’s elections. He’s been endorsed by major players in the failed effort to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory. In January, Marchant told Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, that he is part of “a coalition of America First secretary of state candidates” that is working “behind the scenes to try to fix 2020 like President Trump said.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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