Lawsuit seeks to oust Kristina Karamo as Michigan GOP chair

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The recently installed acting chair of Michigan’s Republican Party and others in the state GOP are suing to get the group’s former leader, Kristina Karamo, officially declared as being removed from the post.

Malinda Pego, Michigan GOP administrative vice chair Ali Hossein and party coalitions vice chair Hassan Nehme are among plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Friday in Kent County Circuit Court in Grand Rapids.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract.

Kristina Karamo speaks to Michigan Republican Party delegates on Feb. 18, 2023, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti, File)

A group of Michigan Republican state committee members voted Jan. 6 to remove Karamo, an election- denier and supporter of former President Donald Trump. Many of the party’s leaders had called for her resignation following a year of leadership plagued by debt and infighting.

About 45 people, not including proxies, attended the meeting in Commerce Township where Karamo was voted out as chair. Nearly 89% of those present voted to remove her, Bree Moeggenberg, District 2 state committeewoman, said following the meeting.

Pego had been Karamo’s co-chair and was tabbed to serve as acting chair until a new chair was voted in. That took place on Saturday when the faction that voted to remove Karamo voted to replace her with former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Hoekstra also served as an ambassador to the Netherlands from 2018 to 2021.

Karamo was elected about a year ago. She did not attend the Jan. 6 meeting and has made it clear she will not recognize the vote, claiming the meeting was not official and had been illegally organized. Karamo held her own meeting on Jan. 13.

The Associated Press left an email seeking comment Saturday from Karamo.

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The lawsuit says the Jan. 13 meeting was illegal and improper.

“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,” according to the lawsuit.

The internal dispute takes place as Michigan Republicans look to rebound from 2022 midterms in which they suffered historic losses. The party is aiming this year to flip an open U.S. Senate seat while also helping the Republican presidential nominee win the battleground state.

Michigan is among several swing states where parties overtaken by far-right leadership have struggled to overcome infighting and money issues. Similar situations have unfolded in Georgia and Arizona, which pose a significant issue in the 2024 presidential election where those states are poised to play pivotal roles.

Karamo, a former community college instructor, rose through Michigan’s Republican ranks by spreading election conspiracies after the 2020 presidential election. She eventually was backed by former President Donald Trump in her run for secretary of state in 2022, losing by 14 percentage points in a result that she still refuses to concede.

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The Michigan GOP is in the midst of a leadership dispute, with the recently installed leadership suing to officially remove former chair Kristina Karamo. Karamo, an election denier and former supporter of former President Donald Trump, was voted out by a majority of state committee members due to a year of leadership plagued by debt and infighting. However, she refuses to recognize the vote and claims the meeting was illegal. The internal dispute is causing turmoil within the Michigan GOP as they aim to rebound from historic losses in the 2022 midterms. The leadership struggle is also reflective of similar issues faced by other state Republican parties overtaken by far-right leadership, posing a significant issue for the 2024 presidential election. Karamo was backed by Trump in her run for secretary of state in 2022, but lost by 14 percentage points and still refuses to concede. The dispute ultimately impacts the party’s efforts to flip an open U.S. Senate seat and support the Republican presidential nominee in the battleground state of Michigan.

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