Members of the Michigan Republican Party’s 100-some-member state committee are “well on their way” to collecting the signatures needed to bounce Chair Kristina Karamo, an unprecedented move in state partisan politics.
After roughly eight months at the helm, Karamo has lost the party’s state headquarters, lost money at its biennial Mackinac Island leadership conference and cycled through staff.
Dan Lawless of Oakland County is trying to get at least half of his fellow GOP state committee members to sign a petition calling for a special meeting to vote out Karamo and General Counsel Dan Hartman. I’m told he’s “well on his way” to getting the number.
Once a meeting is called, at least 75% of those present need to vote for removal.
An increasing number of state committee members are seeing what I wrote about in this space this past July. The party apparatus is disintegrating into dysfunction. They’re begrudgingly realizing that tossing around ideological banter among themselves isn’t raising money, and it’s not growing membership.
When asked during a recent event how much money the Republican Party currently has, Karamo was captured on video standing in silence for 40 uncomfortable seconds until the next question was asked.
The best spin she had for the low-attendance Mackinac conference was, “We considered it a very successful event because of what it inspired people to do, and we didn’t lose a lot of money in the process.”
When asked if the party was prepared to support its state House nominees in 2024, the first words Karamo shared were, “Of course, we’re not where we want to be.”
She wants to be sitting on an army of grassroots volunteers winning Michigan for Republicans one neighborhood at a time.
It all sounds great if you’re a Republican, until she conceded that “we’ve hit a wall” with volunteers. The members it does have are “aging out” or quitting, like former 5th Congressional District Chair Jon Smith, who said his workload as a volunteer was becoming a 12-hour-a-day commitment.
Fewer people are interested in serving in party politics, meaning more work for those who remain.
By Smith’s estimation, 10 of 13 state congressional chairs, five of the six co-chairs and at least half of the state committee are “up in arms” and would probably vote to remove the former secretary of state nominee if a vote were held today.
“I love Karamo as an individual. She’s a great person who means well, but I have to think about the party,” Smith said. “She should step aside and pass the baton to someone else.”
Outside of ostracizing the old guard of the GOP that brought in the bucks that allowed Republicans to do things like win races, Karamo is isolating different factions and has ignored those who voice any bit of criticism, inside sources tell me. Her circle of supporters is growing tighter as more people question the party’s finances.
Dawn Beattie, Karamo’s former executive administrator, wrote this last week in a group email:
“Calling for the removal of an inept chair isn’t personal, but necessary and our job. We were elected to a position to provide checks and balances to the administration … Any disastrous outcome in 2024, due to a lack of urgency and action on our part, will lie at our feet.”
Former candidate Scott Greenlee, a long-time MIGOP operative who has caché with enough of the party factions to at least get everyone rowing in the same direction, appears to be the most likely replacement. At the very least, he wouldn’t stick his nose in internal county spats as Karamo & Co. did in Kalamazoo and elsewhere.
Whether he could raise the new volunteers and cash needed to make the party become even a factor in 2024 is hard to tell. For now, the question is how long it will take for Karamo to cut out enough of her supporters to make a switch imminent.
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