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Michigan Republicans squabble over leadership after members vote to remove Karamo as chair

Karamo sought to reassure Republicans at Clinton Twp. meeting on Monday

By Kyle Davidson, Michigan Advance - January 09, 2024
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Kristina Karamo
Former President Donald Trump, left, listens as Michigan Republican Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo speaks during a rally in Warren, Mich., Oct. 1, 2022. On Monday, June 12, 2023, a judge ordered Karamo, the Michigan Republican Party chairperson, and others to pay more than $58,000 in legal fees incurred by the Detroit clerk’s office to fight a lawsuit they filed challenging absentee voting in the city. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP)



Members of the Michigan GOP continue to grapple for control of the party as Kristina Karamo continues to assert her role as chair following a  meeting to remove her from the position on Saturday

The infighting comes months before the 2024 election, with Michigan poised to play a pivotal role once again in the fight for control of the White House and Congress.

Karamo, an unsuccessful secretary of state candidate who was elected as chair of the party in February 2023, has faced internal criticism from members who accused her of placing the party at risk of bankruptcy, and of going back on promises of transparency and accountability. 

Following calls for resignation from eight of the party’s 13 district chairs and the circulation of a petition for a meeting to consider Karamo’s removal — which party Co-Chair Malinda Pego signed — members hosted a Saturday meeting in Commerce Township, where members voted to remove Karamo from her position, alongside other members of party leadership. 

Pego, who said she was acting as the party’s temporary chair, sent an email to members of the party’s state committee on Monday, canceling a meeting Karamo had initially scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13 in Houghton Lake. Following the vote to remove Karamo, leaders announced a new chair would be picked in 30 days, with several members voicing support for former Ambassador and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra.

However, Karamo and her supporters contend she is still the rightful leader of the party, arguing that Saturday’s meeting was in violation of the party’s bylaws, releasing a seven-page report on possible ways it had violated the party’s bylaws. Karamo’s faction of the party has vowed to deal with the members responsible “swiftly and accordingly based on the rules of the MI GOP bylaws.”

Since Saturday, the two factions have sent out a flurry of press statements. 

In addition to sending communications from an email similar to the one used by Karamo and her supporters, Pego’s faction has also launched a website — mi-gop.org — under a similar address to the party’s official website — migop.org.

In the email obtained by the Advance, Pego said a motion was passed to cancel the Jan. 13 meeting, and announced new temporary chairs for the party’s standing committees, in addition to reassigning various state committee members to the standing committees.

Pego also advised state committee members to ignore communications from recently removed members of the committee threatening legal retribution or similar actions. 

However, the Jan. 13 meeting will stand, Karamo’s faction said in an email to the Advance

“Based on the inappropriate actions that were taken by Malinda Pego on January 6, 2024, which are considered to be a breach of her fiduciary duties,  Chairwoman Karamo has accepted what she considers to be Malinda Pego’s constructive resignation as co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party,” the email said. 

“Any correspondence sent by Melinda Pego is fraudulent and does not represent the Michigan Republican Party in any capacity,” it said. 

Michigan Republican Party Communications Director Robert Owens, who party members voted to remove from his position on Saturday, announced in a post on X that Pego had been removed from the party’s website. 

However, Pego issued a statement denying Karamo and her supporters’ assertions that she had resigned, noting that Pego was committed to serving through 2024 and beyond. 

“Although some seek to divide, now is the time for our party to come together and work to elect Republicans across our great state. I believe the best is yet to come,” Pego said in the statement. 

During a Q&A session with Republicans in Clinton Township on Monday, Karamo said the party will stay its course. 

“Our plan is just to function as a party. … I am not interested in fighting, arguing, going to and fro with people. But the people who want to do the work, will work,” Karamo said. 

“I do want to hear legitimate complaints, but other than that, we just move forward,” she said.

Karamo and her party are not looking to penalize committee members who showed up to the Saturday meeting, but the party’s policy committee are looking into compliance violations for individuals misappropriating the party, and acting as though they’re conducting party business, Karamo said.

All matters — including the vote for Karamo’s removal and questions about the party’s budget — will be resolved at the party’s upcoming meeting on Saturday, Jan. 13 in Houghton Lake, Karamo said.

While members of Karamo’s opposition said on Saturday that they had already begun legal paperwork to enforce the leadership change, Braden Giacobazzi, a member of the party’s state committee who moderated the Q&A, said the party has yet to receive any of those potential filings.  


This story was originally published on Michigan Advance.


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