Michigan Republicans plan dueling conventions for presidential nomination as turmoil continues

Feb 20, 2024, 3:14 PM | Updated: 3:50 pm

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans’ clash over leadership of their state party could mean dueling presidential nominating conventions will take place March 2, even though the national Republican Party has said members properly removed former chair Kristina Karamo.

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the new Michigan GOP chair as recognized by the Republican National Committee, announced Tuesday that the state Republican Party will hold a presidential nominating convention to allocate 39 of the state’s 55 presidential delegates on March 2 in Grand Rapids. But Karamo and her backers plan to hold a convention the same day in Detroit.

Meanwhile, hearings regarding the dispute over Michigan’s GOP chair position are scheduled for later this week, and a judge could resolve the situation before the convention events.

Karamo was voted out as party chair by some members in the party during a Jan. 6 meeting, but she has refused to accept the results, claiming the meeting was not official and had been illegally organized.

The Republican National Committee, or RNC, recognized Hoekstra, who served as a U.S. representative for Michigan from 1993 until 2011, as the state party chair last week. Former President Donald Trump had previously endorsed Hoekstra for the position.

Michigan Republicans’ process for allocating delegates already was complicated this year.

Democrats who control the state legislature voted to move Michigan’s primary to Feb. 27. The date change violated RNC rules, forcing Republicans to split the primary into two parts.

The party will allocate 16 of the state’s 55 delegates based on the results of the Feb. 27 primary. Republican precinct delegates will allocate the remaining number at the March 2 state convention.

The internal Michigan GOP dispute is not expected to significantly affect the outcome for front-runner Trump. Precinct delegates allocating the 39 delegates have long been loyal to the former president, nominating the Republican secretary of state and attorney general candidates he endorsed ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Split loyalties within the state party have set the stage for Hoekstra and Karamo to each send their own set of delegates to the RNC. Some local party leaders have vowed to attend Karamo’s convention in Detroit, no matter what the RNC has said.

David Chandler, chairman of the Iosco County GOP, still recognizes Karamo as the party’s chair and told The Associated Press that his county GOP will be attending her March 2 event.

“It’s Karamo who is going to be there, and we’re going to run this,” Chandler said. ”We’re going to send the results of that convention to the RNC. If they don’t accept it, if they decide we’re not going to be able to send our delegates to the national convention, that’s too bad. That’s too bad, so sad for the RNC.”

The matter could potentially be resolved in court before the March 2 convention. A judge in Kent County on Tuesday allowed for a lawsuit seeking to oust Karamo from the chair post to move forward. Hearings on whether an injunction against Karamo should be issued are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

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Michigan Republicans plan dueling conventions for presidential nomination as turmoil continues