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National Republican party sides with former Rep. Pete Hoekstra in battle over Michigan GOP chair

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra has been recognized by the national Republican Party as the Michigan GOP chair in a vote that also affirmed Kristina Karamo was properly removed from the position. (Feb. 14)(AP video: Mike Householder)

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra has been officially recognized by the national Republican party as the Michigan GOP chairman in a vote that also affirmed that Kristina Karamo was properly removed from the position earlier this year.

The decision was made Wednesday following a unanimous vote by the executive committee of the Republican National Committee, or RNC, to recognize Hoekstra as chair and confirm his status as a voting member of the national party.

Some members of the Michigan GOP had coalesced last month to vote Karamo out of the position, a result that she has refused to accept. Since then, dueling factions have claimed to control the state party.

Donald Trump had endorsed Hoekstra for the position over Karamo, a once loyal supporter of the former president, whom he previously endorsed in 2022 for Michigan’s secretary of state position. Karamo was elected last February to lead the Michigan Republican Party through the 2024 presidential election after losing her secretary of state race by over 14 percentage points.

The RNC’s decision comes less than two weeks before the state holds its presidential primary and in a year where Michigan Republicans are desperate to win back some power after historic losses in 2022.

“We must put our nose to the grindstone over the next several months and focus on party unit to secure a red-wave victory in November,” said Hoekstra in a statement following the RNC decision.

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Hoekstra added that Karamo should “end her misinformation campaign” and “join the fight to re-elect Donald Trump rather than dividing this Party.”

Hoekstra served as a U.S. representative from 1993 until 2011 and acted as the United States ambassador to the Netherlands under Trump.

“Pete will make the Republican Party of Michigan great again and has my complete and total endorsement to be its chairman,” Trump wrote on social media on Jan. 26.

While the RNC’s ruling gives Hoekstra some legitimacy to the position, a final ruling is expected to come in the courts. Karamo has repeatedly said that the RNC had no legal authority in the fight over the chair position and that she would not concede without a court ruling.

Karamo did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the RNC’s decision.

Some of Karamo’s critics have sued her and asked a judge to resolve the dispute. A hearing on Karamo’s motion to dismiss the case is set for February 20.

In January, close to half of the Michigan GOP’s voting members came together to vote Karamo out as chair, citing fundraising woes and months of infighting. Eight of the state party’s 13 congressional district chairs had called on Karamo to resign and her co-chair, Malinda Pego, aided the effort to remove her.

Republicans in Michigan are hoping to win an open U.S. Senate seat this year in addition to multiple competitive House races. Control of the Michigan House, which is currently deadlocked at 54-54 after two seats were vacated by Democrats, will also be up for grabs this year.

Cappelletti covers politics and state government for ϰϲ in Michigan. He is based in Lansing.