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‘Mass confusion’ as Michigan GOP preps presidential caucus amid leadership fight

It’s time for Karamo to “end her misinformation campaign,” Hoekstra said in a Wednesday statement after the RNC vote. “She should join the fight to re-elect Donald Trump rather than dividing this party. Since I was elected chair, we have moved full-steam ahead to develop a plan to elect Republicans across Michigan. We are ready to execute.”

Hoekstra’s team had already been reaching out to congressional district chairs who will run the individual caucus meetings at the March 2 convention under rules developed with the RNC, said Barb Zinner of Sterling Heights, who chairs the 10th District.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly,” Zinner said. “I think it’s going to work out fine. We may not agree, but we want Republicans elected because we want what’s best for the country, the state, our district and counties.”

But the leadership dispute has put local GOP leaders in an awkward position, said 7th District Chair Dan Wholihan. He recognizes Hoekstra as state chair but is prepared to run the March 2 caucus even if Karamo remains in charge.

“I am controlling what I can control,” Wholihan said. “I will make sure that we do what we are supposed to do, regardless of whatever the courts decide in regards to leadership.”

A Kent County judge could decide the Michigan GOP leadership dispute as early as next week, when the circuit court will hold a hearing on a preliminary injunction requested by some of Karamo’s opponents.

‘Mass confusion everywhere’

The Republican infighting is not limited to the state party, where delegates elected Karamo last February amid a grassroots takeover.

Competing factions are also battling for control of several county parties, which are slated to meet Thursday night in order to select which local Republican activists to send to the March 2 caucus convention in Detroit.

In Kalamazoo County, Republicans will hold two separate conventions amid an ongoing leadership feud between Kelly Sackett and Rod Halcomb, both of whom claim to be the local GOP chair.

“It’s mass confusion everywhere,” said Sackett, who contends a September vote to remove her from the county post was “fake” even though the Karamo administration has subsequently chosen to recognize Halcomb as chair.

“It’s confusing to delegates” who have received two separate calls to convention and must now decide which to attend, Sackett said.  “One slate of delegates is not going to get to go to March 2, and the other slate will.”

A Kalamazoo County judge this week declined to settle the local dispute, rejecting Sackett’s request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit she filed against both Halcomb and Karamo.

In court testimony, Halcomb argued Sackett was properly removed as chair for “disciplinary purposes” because she had unilaterally ousted several Karamo loyalists from the county party. “After that, I was elected as the chair,” he said.

Halcomb plans to hold his county convention at a community center in Scotts, while Sackett’s faction plans to meet about 16 miles away at the 12th Street Baptist Church in Kalamazoo. Both start at 7 p.m.

“I recommend going to (Halcomb’s) convention, because it’s the only convention that the Michigan Republican Party will recognize,” Karamo said Wednesday.

‘Lighting and thunder’

The Michigan GOP devised its presidential caucus plan to avoid a delegate penalty after the Democratic-led Legislature moved up the state’s government-run primary to Feb. 27 in violation of RNC rules.

While the RNC previously agreed to the plan, it’s not immediately clear if the national party would recognize presidential delegates from Karamo’s March 2 convention now that it no longer recognizes her as state party chair.

“That is something our legal team will need to address,” Karamo acknowledged.

But, she argued, the RNC “can’t just not recognize these duly elected delegates because they don’t like the state chairperson. It doesn’t work that way.”

Karamo allies have been urging her supporters to flood county conventions this week so they can secure spots to the March 2 caucus convention in Detroit, where they’ve suggested there could also be another vote on her leadership.

“When the delegates get together and make a stand, we the people will be heard,” Ken Beyer, chair of the 4th Congressional District, said in a recent video message distributed to fellow Republicans.

“The storm is behind us. The delegates will be the lightning and thunder.”

Karamo declined to confirm whether she plans to ask activists to decide her political fate at the March 2 gathering. Current convention rules make no mention of a leadership vote, but “that’s something we’re still open to,” she said, “because we are in uncharted waters as a Michigan Republican Party.”

While critics contend they removed Karamo as chair due to fundraising struggles and her handling of local party disputes, she alleges they are simply bitter that she has prioritized working class voters over wealthy donors who had long funded what she called a “Grey Poupon Party.”

“There’s been an extremely well funded effort to get rid of and purge us unwashed masses, as many from the old guard consider us,” she said. “They find us to be beneath them. We’re filth to these people.”

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