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Michigan GOP chair Karamo was 'properly removed' from position, national Republican party says

Joey Cappelletti

A group of close to half of the Michigan GOP's party members this month voted to remove Karamo from her role. Karamo has refused to accept the results

Kristina Karamo, a failed secretary of state candidate who was elected as the Michigan Republican Party’s chair last February, was “properly removed” from the position earlier this month by party members, according to an initial review done by the Republican National Committee.

The Republican National Committee, or RNC, said their determination was not final and could change depending on additional information. It came in a letter sent Wednesday by RNC attorneys to both Karamo and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who was elected as the new chair by a group of Michigan GOP members.

“Based upon its initial review, it appears to the Counsel's office that Ms. Karamo was properly removed in accordance with the MI GOP bylaws,” read the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

While RNC members are expected to meet following a Jan. 30 winter meeting to make further recommendations, the dispute over the Michigan GOP chair position will likely play out in court in the months to come.

The latest development in a months long dispute over the state party's leadership comes about a month before the state holds its presidential primary and in a year where Michigan Republicans are desperate to win back some power after historic losses in 2022.

Republicans are hoping to win an open U.S. Senate seat next year in addition to multiple competitive House races. Control of the Michigan House, which is currently deadlocked at 54-54 after two seats were vacated by Democrats, will also be up for grabs this year.

Earlier this month, close to half of the Michigan GOP's voting members came together to vote Karamo out as chair, citing fundraising woes and months of infighting. Eight of the state party’s 13 congressional district chairs had called on Karamo to resign and her own co-chair, Malinda Pego, aided the effort to remove her.

The group then voted to elect Hoekstra as the party's new chair. Hoekstra served as a U.S. representative from 1993 until 2011 and acted as the United States ambassador to the Netherlands under former President Donald Trump.

Karamo, an election conspiracist who refused to accept the results of her 14 percentage point loss in the 2022 secretary of state race, has claimed the Jan. 6 vote to remove her as chair was “illegitimate” and “illegal.” She sent cease and desist letters last week to Hoekstra and other opponents alleging defamation of character and trademark infringement.

The RNC had been reviewing the legitimacy of the vote to remove Karamo ahead of a RNC winter meeting in Las Vegas on Jan. 30. Voting members, which includes state party chairs, are invited to the meeting.

While both Karamo and Hoekstra will be invited to the winter meeting as guests, neither will be credentialed as Michigan GOP chair, according to the letter sent by RNC's general counsel Michael Whatley and chief counsel Matthew Raymer.

Following the meeting, RNC members will “work quickly” to review the dispute and make a recommendation, the letter reads.

Karamo's general counsel, Dan Hartman, responded to the RNC's letter in a statement Thursday, calling their opinion “irrelevant.”

“Lawyers signing a letter does not communicate anything other than their opinion. Therefore, while the letter is authentic, I do not care," Hartman said in the statement, adding that they will continue with “business as usual.”

Hoekstra said in a statement that he was “pleased” to see the RNC's letter and that his focus now is to “ensure that we continue to put together an operation that will deliver the state of Michigan for Donald Trump.”

Trump won Michigan in 2016 before now-President Joe Biden won it in the 2020 race.

Michigan’s GOP presidential primary Feb. 27 will award 16 of the state’s 55 delegates. The remaining 39 delegates will be allocated during a March 2 convention hosted by the state party.

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