Court ruling on MIGOP chair dispute expected next week ⋆

Following two days of testimony, the judge tasked with essentially deciding who is the chair of the Michigan Republican Party is set to render a decision next week.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge J. Joseph Rossi is presiding over a request for a preliminary injunction to force Kristina Karamo, who was elected chair of the party in February 2023, to turn over control of the party’s assets, including its website, email list and bank accounts. Hearings on that request were held Wednesday and Thursday.

The request was filed by the faction of the party that voted at a Jan. 6 gathering in Commerce Township to oust Karamo due to the dismal state of the party’s finances and then selected Hoekstra to be the new MIGOP chair at a Jan. 20 meeting in Lansing. 

Karamo has contended the party’s bylaws were not properly followed in that process and does not recognize the vote to remove her as legitimate. Both sides in the case have drawn on different interpretations of those bylaws to back their respective arguments.

Ultimately, the dispute could impact the 2024 GOP presidential primary process. The Michigan Republican Party is set to have a caucus on March 2 during which the majority of presidential delegates will be chosen. Both Karamo and Hoekstra have announced competing events.

At the close of Thursday’s hearing, Karamo’s attorneys asked for the preliminary injunction request to be dismissed, which Rossi declined. He then indicated he would render a decision on the matter by early next week.

House Minority Leader Matt Hall, left, and Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, right, speak to reporters following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fifth State of the State address on Jan. 25, 2023. (Andrew Roth/)

While the legal arguments are pending, the political heft behind Hoekstra continues to build. The former West Michigan congressman and one-time ambassador to the Netherlands was also given the blessing Tuesday by Michigan’s GOP legislative leaders when House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) and Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Twp.) signed a letter in support of Hoekstra.

“(W)e join President Donald J. Trump in giving our support to Chairman Hoekstra,” they said. “We are on the front lines of the battle against the hyper-partisan progressive agenda in Lansing, and know all too well the importance of unifying.”

“We can work together to deliver Michigan for President Trump, achieve a Republican Majority in the State House, and elect a deep bench of servant leaders in local races across the state. Now is the time to unify to accomplish those goals,” concluded the letter.

Hoekstra was also previously named by the Republican National Committee (RNC) as the chair of the MIGOP and endorsed by Trump.

While the decision on the preliminary injunction is pending, plans continue to move forward for duel Michigan Republican Party conventions on March 2. 

Karamo previously set a convention to be held at Huntington Place in Detroit, while Hoekstra on Tuesday issued a call to convention notice that same day at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.

The way Michigan Republicans are selecting presidential delegates has changed this year, as they’re holding a primary election with the rest of the state on Tuesday, after which 16 delegates will be awarded. Then the remaining 39 of the state’s 55 delegates will be determined at the March 2 caucus.

Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are the remaining Republicans in the race.

RNC says Karamo ‘properly removed’ as Michigan GOP chair

The RNC has indicated that only those delegates sent from the convention organized by Hoekstra will be credentialed for the party’s national convention in Milwaukee in July.

That was backed up Thursday in an email to party members from Macomb County Republican Party Chair Mark Forton.

“We are now faced with atwo competing convention[s], one in Detroit and one in Grand Rapids. You have every right to attend whichever one you choose, but many of you are new delegates and are unfamiliar with the way the structure functions,” said Forton.

“The RNC has officially recognized Pete Hoekstra as the Chair of the MIGOP. Therefore, [the] RNC will seat the Grand Rapids elected 39 Delegates at their National Convention. I humbly encourage all the Trump Delegates in Macomb and throughout the State to attend the Grand Rapids District Convention and make sure that Donald J. Trump receives all 39 of Michigan Delegates, and that they are all truly ‘Trump Delegates,’” he said.



authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F02%2F23%2Fcourt-ruling-on-migop-chair-dispute-expected-next-week%2F

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