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RNC: Pete Hoekstra is chair of Michigan Republicans, not Kristina Karamo

  • The Republican National Committee on Wednesday voted to recognize Pete Hoekstra as Michigan GOP chair
  • Kristina Karamo argues she was never removed from the post and has vowed to fight the RNC determination
  • A Kent County judge could decide the dispute as early as next week

LANSING — Pete Hoekstra is the new chair of the Michigan GOP, according to a new Republican National Committee determination that Kristina Karamo has vowed to fight as she continues to claim the state party post.

Members of the RNC’s executive committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to ratify Hoekstra as a Michigan member after a separate contests committee determined he is the legitimate party chair, according to a source with first-hand knowledge of the vote.

Rob Steele, a longtime RNC member from Michigan, confirmed the determination in a text message to Bridge Michigan.

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Hoekstra, a former ambassador and U.S. representative who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, responded to the RNC decision by calling on Karamo to “end her misinformation campaign” and fully relinquish control of the Michigan GOP.

“Since I was elected Chairman, we have moved full-steam ahead to develop a plan to elect Republicans across Michigan,” Hoekstra said in a statement.

“We are ready to execute. We must put our nose to the grindstone over the next several months and focus on party unity to secure a red-wave victory in November.”

Karamo has already vowed to continue her fight. She contends critics who organized January meetings to oust her and elect Hoekstra did so in violation of state party bylaws, making their actions illegitimate.

“We are a bottom up organization, so the delegates choose who their chair is, not the RNC,” the Oak Park Republican told Bridge earlier Wednesday, referencing party activists who elected her to the post last year.

“If the court intervenes and says I have to relinquish control of the party, then of course that changes things,” Karamo said. “I’m not gonna go to jail.”

A Kent County judge could soon weigh in. A hearing is scheduled next week on a lawsuit from critics who are seeking to force Karamo to turn over party bank accounts, email and social media, among other things.

The leadership dispute has engulfed the Michigan GOP for more than a month. After opponents voted to remove her on Jan. 6, Karamo organized a separate and larger state committee meeting where supporters voted to keep her on.

The RNC decision comes less than two weeks before Michigan’s Feb. 27 presidential primary. The state party will also hold a March 2 caucus convention that will help decide whether Trump or Nikki Haley is the GOP’s nominee.

Karamo said she “absolutely” plans to oversee the March 2 convention, regardless of whether the RNC recognizes Hoekstra as chair.

She was elected just one year ago after a failed run for secretary of state, a contest Karamo has refused to concede.

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