The Michigan Republican Party is catastrophically collapsing harder and faster than even its skeptics imagined.
We’re talking about the state “Michigan Republican Party” here, the entity that abandoned its own downtown Lansing building for rented space at 101 S. Washington Square and a P.O. box at a Walker UPS store.
In 2024, Michigan candidates will run as Republicans. Undoubtedly, many will enjoy success. But the state-level apparatus charged with raising money and organizing supporters for candidates is disintegrating into dysfunction.
We all suspected it. Last week, we got a behind-the-curtain peek at how bad it is.
MRP Chair Kristina Karamo removed the party’s budget committee chair, Matthew Johnson, because he apparently kicked her chief of staff out of committee meetings and failed at his job.
That alienated one of Johnson’s close political confidants, Karamo’s own co-chair, Malinda Pego, who had her access to the party’s financial accounts stripped.
Karamo claimed Johnson wasn’t keeping her administration informed about the money coming in and out.
In response, Johnson said it was Karamo who wasn’t keeping the committee informed. From what he can tell, there’s a lot going out in salaries — and what’s coming in is “extremely meager.”
He claims he was removed from his post because he tried to scale back staff salaries, including Karamo’s, in order to right-size the ship. Apparently, the MRP is “on the path to bankruptcy,” Johnson claimed.
Last weekend, the MRP had its credit card declined when officials attempted to buy a couple of tables at former President Donald Trump’s fundraising speech for the Oakland County Republican Party. The party did settle up, but it took some time.
At the event itself, Trump mispronounced Karamo’s name not once, but twice. He called her “Ka-ra-no,” a play on her last name that political opponents used against her during this year’s state party chair race.
Remember, Trump didn’t endorse Karamo for chair. He supported Matt DePerno, who lost the competitive election. He also didn’t invest in Karamo’s 2022 secretary of state race.
MRP delegates claim they didn’t want an “establishment” person running the state party. To them, even being in the Trump universe was too “establishment” for them.
They wanted a “grassroots candidate.” They wanted someone who embraced the election conspiracy theories of Trump but wasn’t Trump. They wanted an articulate, charismatic leader who would use the party to filter out RINOs, “Republicans In Name Only,” and those who didn’t give full-throated support to 100% of the GOP platform.
That’s exactly what they got.
They got an inexperienced ideologue who surrounded herself with other true believers while having little experience running anything collaboratively.
Instead of growing the party, Karamo is alienating her own former allies. Her circle of support is shrinking as more Republican entities — like the Michigan House Republican Campaign Committee — look to people like former Gov. Rick Snyder to raise money for them.
Also, the Republicans’ biennial conference on Mackinac Island, which has been held since the Eisenhower administration, is on the ropes. We’re three months from the event, and the MRP has announced zero speakers. That’s inexcusable. At least 14 presidential candidates would love access to the Michigan Republicans who will decide which delegates go to the national convention.
Karamo never buried the hatchet with DePerno. Instead, she let him pick it up and chop her with it every chance he can. He’s trying to get Karamo deposed in the Kalamazoo and Hillsdale county lawsuits he’s leading so he can get her to say God only knows what under oath.
The MRP is resembling the fractured Michigan Libertarian Party. It’s spending time beating out its brains over ideological purity tests and silly turf wars. Third parties are third parties because they don’t expand their tent to connect with people on issues of common agreement.
Instead, the leadership encourages battle royales over who’s more loyal to whom. It’s a guaranteed way to lose support and elections.
The question is how much long Michigan Republicans will put up with it.
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