Michigan Republican Party is split, but how much does it matter?


Here’s a trick question for you.

Who’s the chair of the Michigan Republican Party? Or is there more than one? Does it even matter?

Here’s the short answer. Two people are claiming the title of Michigan Republican Party chair (at the moment). And it doesn’t matter as much as you would think.

Up until the MIGOP revolution of Jan. 6 (I know, the irony of it all), the undisputed chair was Kristina Karamo. She’s the likeable, charismatic and exceptionally unqualified former Republican secretary of state nominee who lost by more votes than any other statewide partisan nominee on the 2022 ballot.

Karamo refused to concede defeat.

You might call such a denial delusionary. But among today’s GOP grassroots, such brazen conduct is a qualification for state party chair.

So that’s what Republicans did. They elevated the former bar trivia host to chair with few other qualifications. (Roaring “voter fraud” in 2020 and hosting a short-lived Christian nationalist podcast are the other two.)

Karamo struggled from the get-go to raise money. She told the traditional GOP donors to fly a kite, so they’re giving through other less-than-transparent vehicles, like shadowy 527s and super PACs.

Karamo asked the grassroots to give, but they don’t have money.

She burned through what little savings the party had in its various accounts and racked up the party’s line of credit with Comerica Bank.

She didn’t move to the MIGOP’s downtown headquarters on Seymour Street. The electric bills never got paid, so the automatic doors unlocked when the power was shut off. The police noticed that when they checked the front doors.

The GOP’s address is a UPS box in Grand Rapids. It rents some space in downtown Lansing, but it can’t really afford that, either.

Karamo & Friends are getting in too deep with local small-ball politics.

They’re forcing in a political ally to be chair of the Kalamazoo County Republican Party when a chair already exists.

A judge fined Karamo $500 for not recognizing the proper county chair in Hillsdale County.

The party is flat broke. Karamo is trying to sell the GOP headquarters building (which it doesn’t own). She’s also trying to get out of a $500,000 line-of-credit debt with Comerica by saying the former MIGOP staffer who signed off on the original loan wasn’t authorized to do so.

Could you imagine if that trick worked!?!

There’s so much dirt here. So much. Even another 500 words couldn’t do it justice.

This past fall, even Karamo’s own running mate, Co-Chair Malinda Pego, had had enough. She joined forces with a growing number of skeptics on the MIGOP’s governing committee. On Jan. 6, they all voted to remove Karamo and her top lieutenants.

Did they violate the party’s bylaws in the process? Uh, maybe.

A judge will need to decide at some point. Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, isn’t stepping into this.

In the meantime, Karamo says she’s still the chair. Pego says she’s the chair until a permanent replacement is selected Saturday.

Somebody needs to run a March 2 caucus/convention to pick Michigan’s presidential delegates, but if Donald Trump is the only candidate left standing at that point, what does it matter?

The U.S. Senate candidates aren’t counting on the party for funding. Peter Meijer and Sandy Pensler are rich. Mike Rogers has his friends in D.C. And, for some reason, people from across the country love giving money to Fox News celebrity guest James Craig.

D.C. is taking care of competitive congressional candidates like Tom Barrett (if his polling numbers stay passable). Rick Snyder and his pals are raising money for the state House candidates.

Anyone who wants to have philosophical debates or play political games can join one of the two Michigan Republican Parties and do that. Otherwise, Republican candidates and voters are finding ways to run without either party apparatus.

They seem to be doing fine.

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at melinnky@gmail.com.)


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