Haley vies for Michigan Republican caucus win after Tuesday loss to Trump


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Chaos and confusion threaten to upstage Michigan Republicans on Saturday as they determine how to award delegates to former President Donald Trump and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

An ugly leadership dispute is fueling the disarray.

Pete Hoekstra, who has the Republican National Committee’s blessing to chair the Michigan GOP, will preside over one convention set to kick off here at 10 a.m. Kristina Karamo, the deposed and defiant former state party chair, had planned to convene at the same time in Detroit. Meanwhile, GOP groups representing two of Michigan’s 13 congressional districts announced plans to hold their own conventions elsewhere this weekend.

Two party operatives aligned with Karamo, Jim Copas and Ann Clark, told NBC News on Friday that it was their understanding that Karamo’s convention was off. Karamo, in a post on X, encouraged her supporters to “keep fighting” and go “where your district chair recommends.” And talk of rogue and rival mini-conventions rattled around local GOP circles mere hours before would-be delegates had to decide which convention to attend Saturday morning.

“Delegates have been getting conflicting and confusing emails for weeks — promoting different agendas, different staff, different conventions,” Jason Cabel Roe, a veteran Republican strategist in Michigan, said. “You have to pay close attention to even know who is sending what and what the legitimate directions and events are.”

Idaho and Missouri also are holding GOP presidential caucuses Saturday.

The messiness in Michigan is not likely to affect the outcome of the state’s complicated two-step nominating process.

Trump easily won a GOP primary on Tuesday and should receive most of the 16 delegates that will be awarded based on those results. An additional 39 delegates are up for grabs through the convention’s congressional district caucuses Saturday.

Each of the 13 congressional districts will award three delegates proportionally, based on the vote of their caucus, with a candidate who wins 50% of the vote entitled to all three. Trump is expected to dominate those votes too — wherever they are held.

Hoekstra has maintained that his convention is the one that will count, given the RNC’s support and a judge’s order this week prohibiting Karamo from convening party meetings or conducting party business. An appeals court on Thursday rejected Karamo’s effort to block the injunction, raising the risk of legal jeopardy if she or her leadership team would attempt to run a Detroit convention.

But the court rulings came too late for some GOP groups waiting to decide which convention to attend.

A statement Friday from the 1st Congressional District Republicans in northern Michigan said most of their delegates were denied credentials for the Grand Rapids convention because they missed a registration deadline while waiting for the courts to settle the leadership dispute. The group plans to hold its own convention in Houghton Lake. The chairman of the 4th Congressional District GOP, citing similar credentialing issues, told The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press that he would convene a Saturday meeting in Battle Creek.

“The newly declared administration … appears to be inviting dissent and disregarding rules with the consent of their Republican National Committee allies,” 1st District GOP Chairwoman Daire Rendon said. “We will not play that game by falling into their confusing messaging and backtracking. Denying the majority of the delegates elected at County Conventions in the 1st Congressional District their right to be heard at the State District Convention is not acceptable.”

A spokesperson for Hoekstra did not respond to requests for comment.

“We are continuing to investigate ways to allow delegates to participate on Saturday even though rules for credentialing were not followed,” Hoekstra wrote Friday afternoon in a post on X. “I want a strong and unified party moving forward.”

Hoekstra, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands, has endorsed the former president’s 2024 campaign and refers to him as the “presumptive” nominee. Haley remains in the GOP presidential race but finished far behind Trump in Tuesday’s primary.

Karamo, a prominent 2020 election denier in Michigan who lost a race for secretary of state in 2022, was elected to lead the state party last year. But activists quickly grew frustrated with her financial decisions and fundraising practices. A faction of party insiders voted to oust her in January — a vote that the RNC and a Kent County circuit court judge have said was proper.

Asked Friday by conservative talk radio host Justin Barclay of “West Michigan Live” what her plans were for Saturday, Karamo replied: “I won’t be sitting at home, that’s for darn sure.”


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