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Judge refuses to toss court case to remove Karamo as GOP chair

Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo speaks at the 2023 Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference during Sept. 2023.
Colin Jackson
Michigan Public Radio Network
Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo speaking at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in September 2023.

A Kent County judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward that seeks a court order to legally declare that disputed Michigan Republican Party Chair Kristina Karamo is out.

Kent County Circuit Judge J. Joseph Rossi refused to dismiss the case that seeks to take control over bank accounts and other party assets. That’s after a faction of the Republican State Central Committee voted to remove Karamo. She has said the faction does not have that authority because she was elected by delegates at a state party convention.

She also disputes that former congressman Pete Hoekstra was properly selected to replace her.

“It’s not game, set, match but it’s an advantage, I think, to Hoekstra,” said Robert LaBrant, a longtime Republican attorney who’s watching the case. LaBrant is estranged from the GOP and was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to bar Trump from the Michigan ballot.

He told Michigan Public Radio that Karamo’s anemic fundraising, mishandling of party assets and strained relationships with other party leaders all warrant her removal. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Hoekstra, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands from 2018 to 2021.

Karamo did not respond to a request for comment on the court order.

With the request to dismiss the case squared away, arguments on the merits of the lawsuit are scheduled to continue Wednesday and Thursday.

The legal case is playing out as Republicans are about to hold their presidential primary and caucuses.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.