Hoekstra picked to chair Michigan GOP after lawsuit filed to enforce Karamo ouster

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

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 as a former congressman from West Michigan was picked to replace her.

“Honored to be elected Chair of the Michigan Republican Party,” former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra posted on social media Saturday night. “We have one focus from here to November: WIN. No distractions. U.S. Senate. U.S. House. State House majority. President of the United States. We’re gearing up for a clean sweep!”

Malinda Pego, Michigan GOP administrative vice chair Ali Hossein and party coalitions vice chair Hassan Nehme are among plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to enforce Karamo’s ouster that was filed Friday in Kent County Circuit Court in Grand Rapids.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract.

FILE - Kristina Karamo speaks to Michigan Republican Party delegates on Feb. 18, 2023, in Lansing, Mich. Michigan Republicans are planning to meet Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, and discuss removing Michigan GOP Chairwoman Kristina Karamo. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti, File)
FILE – 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.

No HQ and no big donors: Where is Michigan’s Republican Party?

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 Hoekstra.

Karamo was elected to chair the Michigan GOP 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.

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.

Hoekstra, who grew up in Holland, Michigan, previously worked as an executive at office furniture maker Herman Miller and was first elected to represent Congress in 1992. Hoekstra also served as an ambassador to the Netherlands, where he was born, from 2018 to 2021 under President Donald Trump.

—News 8 contributed to this report.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WOODTV.com.