The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Wednesday recognized former Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra as the “duly elected” chair of the Michigan Republican Party after a more than month long standoff between two factions of the state organization.

Former Michigan Republican secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo was removed as chair of the state party on Jan. 6 by a committee meeting of 45 members, but she later convened a committee meeting of her own on Jan.13 in which those in attendance voted to retain her as state party chair, according to MLive. However, members of the Michigan GOP turned to Hoekstra — who was appointed as ambassador to the Netherlands by then-President Donald Trump — on Jan.20, a vote that has now been legitimized by the RNC, according to NBC News.

Both the RNC and our Party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump have now come forward and recognized me as the duly elected Chair of the Michigan Republican Party,” Hoekstra said in a press release on Wednesday. “It is time for the former Chair who was properly removed in accordance with the MIGOP bylaws to end her misinformation campaign. She should join the fight to re-elect Donald Trump rather than dividing this Party.”

During the Jan. 6 meeting in Metro Detroit, which Karamo has called “illegal,” 88% of those voting in attendance voted to remove Karamo, citing poor fundraising totals and her handling of local party conflicts, according to Bridge Michigan. The Michigan GOP owes at least $700,000 to a bank and other creditors in addition to defaulting on an over $500,000 loan in November, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Despite its financial troubles, the party paid over $100,000 to actor Jim Caviezel during the bi-annual Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, an event also headlined by Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, according to The Associated Press.

In response, Karamo convened her own meeting of 60-voting members in Houghton Lake, a city in the north central part of the state, a week after she was ousted, resulting in all but one of those in attendance voting to retain her as party chair, according to MLive.

A group of 70 members of the Michigan GOP then met on Jan.20 in the state capital of Lansing for a meeting in which they voted to elect Hoekstra as the new chair of the state party, and subsequently filed a lawsuit in Kent County Circuit Court in Grand Rapids seeking to have the court rule that Karamo was no longer the party’s legitimate leader, according to The Detroit News.

“Ms. Karamo’s refusal to allow the committee and the Michigan Republican Party to move forward, particularly with an election cycle rapidly approaching, requires swift judicial intervention,” the lawsuit states, according to the AP.

Although the RNC has limited powers to intervene in the Michigan GOP leadership dispute, its attorneys in January said that it appeared Karamo was “properly removed” as chair, according to Bridge Michigan.

The RNC formed a “temporal panel” to review evidence from attorneys of each faction of the dispute. The panel was tasked with making a recommendation to the full body of the RNC to decide who to recognize as state chairperson , according to Bridge Michigan reporter Jonathan Oosting.

Trump backed his former ambassador to the Netherlands over Karamo, who has agreed with several of Trump’s theories questioning the results of the 2020 election and was endorsed by him in her unsuccessful bid to become Michigan’s secretary of state during the 2022 midterm elections, according to the AP.

“I look forward to working with Ambassador Pete Hoekstra as Chairman of The Republican Party of Michigan. He is a winner who was a GREAT Congressman from Michigan and, likewise, did a fantastic job as Ambassador to the Netherlands,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social page on Jan.26.

Michigan is viewed by political analysts as a crucial state for Trump to win if he is to be elected to a second term as president. The state was pivotal to Trump’s election win over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump won by just over 10,000 votes, winning the state’s 16 electoral votes and becoming the first Republican presidential nominee to win the Great Lakes state since former President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Trump lost Michigan to President Joe Biden by over 150,000 votes during his unsuccessful reelection bid in 2020.

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

Hoekstra and Karamo both did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Ryan Meilstrup on February 14, 2024

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