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New GOP chair says he expects leadership dispute to end soon

Colin Jackson

Hoekstra, a former congressman and ambassador from West Michigan, was selected last week by Republican State Central Committee members who were frustrated by the drama and anemic fundraising under Kristina Karamo

The new leader of the Michigan Republican Party – at least the one designated by one faction of the riven organization – predicts the controversy over who’s running things will be decided soon as a top aide to Kristina Karamo sent a letter to the national party protesting that Karamo was improperly removed as state party chair. That was before the vote to replace her with former Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

Hoekstra, a former congressman and ambassador, was selected last week by Republican State Central Committee members who were frustrated by the drama and anemic fundraising under Kristina Karamo. The committee voted on January 6 to remove Karamo after slightly less than a year in the job.

Hoekstra said Friday that he has started to settle into the job of party chair, has been in touch with local party leaders and started to make fundraising calls. He predicted the dispute over leadership will be settled soon. There is a court case on the matter with an initial hearing next week as well as a request for recognition from the Republican National Committee, which meets next week in Las Vegas.

But Hoekstra said the ultimate decision might not be made in either of those forums. In an appearance on the Michigan Public Television show “Off The Record,” Hoekstra said former President Donald Trump may eventually decide.

“Somewhere along the line, the President of the United States – or the nominee for the Republican Party to be the next president – may step in and say this is who I want,” he said.

Hoekstra served in the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

Hoekstra said he has already gotten to work contacting party activists and fundraising. He said the party is “nine months behind” where it should be in this election cycle, but he thinks voters ultimately won’t be focused on the Michigan Republicans’ internal drama.

“People have no idea what a party does,” he said. “They have no idea who a state chairperson is. They’re voting their pocketbooks and they’re going to be voting on issues.”

Karamo insists that she remains the chair and the dissident group acted outside party rules.

The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that Karamo’s executive director, Jim Copas, sent a strongly worded letter to the Republican National Committee.

“Kristina Karamo is the MIGOP chair despite all the drama,” wrote Copas, according to The Free Press.

The letter protests the RNC’s decision that Karamo was properly removed, but refusing to recognize Karamo or Hoekstra as chair. Neither will be seated at the RNC meeting in Las Vegas.

There is also a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the Kent County Circuit Court as part of a lawsuit seeking to remove Karamo as party chair.

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