After months of fighting in what many members of the Michigan GOP have labeled as failed leadership and chaos from Kristina Karamo, the Michigan GOP has elected, former ambassador and congressman Pete Hoekstra for the Michigan GOP chairperson.
Saturday morning members of the state GOP gathered to elect a new chairperson, after Karamo was voted out on Jan. 6 three potential candidates were put forward including Lena Epstein, Vance Patrick who is the current chairperson for the Oakland County Republican party, and Pete Hoekstra.
During the first round of voting, Hoekstra and Epstein received the two highest amount of votes, which put Patrick out of the running. Patrick threw his support behind Hoekstra. With that support and a few phone calls from President Donald Trump‘s team, Hoekstra came out in the end with 50 votes and Epstein with 22 giving Hoekstra the win as chairperson.
The Tribune had the opportunity for a lengthy interview with Hoekstra after his win yesterday. When he was asked why he ran for the position for state party chair, he told the Tribune, “I think this coming election is so absolutely critical to the future of America and to the state of Michigan. Grassroots people started calling me and asking me to expand the role you are playing right now to include running for chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.”
Hoekstra also said, “ I’m active in the state, I’m actively fighting the Chinese battery plants in Big Rapids, and in Marshall, I write regularly on national security issues, and yes with what’s going on right now in the party, thanks for the encouragement, I’m willing to help and put my name forward let’s see how it plays out.“
In a letter sent out to members and delegates this morning by Karamo, she continued to deny that her removal as chair was legal and in the letter she said, “Please understand the attacks are being orchestrated by the same group of elitist individuals who maintain the corrupt status quo system within the Michigan Republican party. This system divides Michigan landscape and reinforces an elitist political hierarchy, based on social status and financial standing.”
Many of Karamo’s opponents blame her for the division in the party that exists today because of what they consider name calling and divisive rhetoric in her emails, texts messages and other correspondence between party members as evident in the email sent by Karamo this morning.
Many state party members who have asked the Tribune to keep them anonymous for fear of retaliation by Karamo have indicated that Karamo is guilty of the very actions that she accuses her opponents of.
Karamo continued in her email by saying, “The actions of people such as Vance Patrick, Lena Epstein, and Pete Hoekstra, who all singled me out to eliminate me as chair, in cahoots with the chaos agents in the party, attempting to steal the voice of the delegates – are condemnable, to say the least.”
Karamo, who still claims to be the chair of the state party has said the faction of the party that is now led by Hoekstra, did not follow the state party’s bylaws when removing her as chair, making her removal illegitimate.
Hoekstra was asked by the Tribune how this will be resolved if Karamo refuses to accept him as the new chairperson and continue to say she is the rightful chairperson. Hoekstra responded, “The party has reached out to the RNC to adjudicate and make a determination who exactly is the rightful owner of the GOP label, obviously at this point, we believe that we are, but we are waiting for a final determination from the RNC.”
The RNC will be meeting in a couple of weeks, and at that meeting they will make a determination on whether Hoekstra or Karamo is the rightful leader of the state party.
Currently, Karamo still controls the party’s assets, including payroll, bank accounts, website and other items legally owned by the party. Hoekstra stated the party members that elected him chairperson filed a temporary restraining order with the court against Karamo on Friday.
Hoekstra indicated he wants this adjudicated and put to rest by the RNC and not through the courts. “Our preference is that this is resolved by the party and that the RNC will adjudicate this, and the parties would abide by the ruling of the RNC and get this out of the courts. Republicans should be able to take care of their own business,” said Hoekstra.
The February 27 presidential primary and a March 2 convention are looming ever closer as the party scrambles to unify and productively fundraise under Hoekstra’s new leadership.
“Today started the road in building unity in the party. We need a unified effort if we are going to win,” said Hoekstra. “The people in Washington and the donors, they know me, they know that they can now give money to the party, and know that it will be spent wisely and spent effectively,“ continued Hoekstra when asked about fundraising.
Hoekstra indicated his excitement to get on with the business of the Republican Party. He also stated some of the goals of the party are to deal with the crisis at the border, the problem of inflation and interest rates and creating a strong military by electing republicans who will stand strong on those issues.
“We need to create a strong military presence so our enemies like Russia, and Iran and their proxies aren’t emboldened to attack in the Middle East,” said Hoekstra.
Anne Delisle, the chairperson of the eighth congressional district is very confident in Hoekstra‘s leadership. “President Trump trusted Pete Hoekstra to deliver victory in Michigan in 2016 and I am confident that Ambassador Pete Hoekstra can deliver a win in 2024 for President Trump,” said Delisle.
Delisle was also one of the eight district chairpersons to sign the original letter on Dec. 28 asking Karamo to resign as chairperson
Delisle reached out to Hoekstra to see if he would consider the position in the event the other candidates didn’t work out or possibly backed out. Delisle said, “he ignites and unifies the room” when describing Hoekstra and his leadership ability.
Delisle said “I’ll do everything I can to help out”, when asked how she will help facilitate Hoekstra in moving the party forward.
As the chairperson for the 8th district, Delisle said, “I will also help Hoekstra insure that we elect a Republican to Congress in the eighth congressional district.“
According to Delisle, those who supported the removal of Karamo and the electing of Hoekstra now have hope in the future of the party compared to the constant frustration and discouragement experienced over the last year with Karamo as their leader.
The RNC will decide the chairperson for the state party in a few short weeks or possibly sooner.
If Karamo does not accept the RNC’s decision, the matter will likely be battled out in court.