News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Some Republicans will skip this weekend's GOP presidential caucuses in Grand Rapids

 Pete Hoekstra (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Public
Pete Hoekstra (file photo)

Michigan Republicans will hold their party’s presidential caucuses Saturday in Grand Rapids. On Thursday, ousted Michigan GOP chair Kristina Karamo abandoned her effort to hold a competing convention in Detroit.

That was right after the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an order upholding her removal as chair. That left former Congressman Pete Hoekstra as the newly named Michigan GOP leader. He had moved the caucuses from southeastern Michigan to the west side of the state.

The move did not sit well with many delegates who had to change travel plans, and, compounding the confusion, one or more congressional district committees decided to simply meet closer to home. Some delegates said they had already been barred from being credentialed.

“We’re done. We’re not playing their game,” said Katie Kniss, chair of the Grand Traverse County Republican Party. “We’re not going to let them pick and choose whose voice is important, whose voice is heard.”

The GOP First Congressional District leadership called its own separate own caucus to be held in Houghton Lake. The first district covers the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Lower Michigan.

Kniss blamed Hoekstra, who she said is trying to purge the party of dissenters. She said an appeal to the Republican National Committee is likely, but she is not sure what might happen after that.

“We’ve never been down this road before and I don’t know how they will respond,” she said. “But we will for certain have the majority of the First Congressional District in one location in Houghton Lake and that can’t be denied.”

The RNC recognized Hoekstra as the chair of the state party following Karamo’s removal, which she claimed violated party bylaws. Her 11 months in the post were marked by infighting and a collapse in fundraising and the party’s finances.

Former President Donald Trump also endorsed Hoekstra to be chair.

Hoekstra said the people denied credentials ignored requests to register for the Grand Rapids caucuses until it was too late.

Hoesktra told The Detroit News that Republicans are welcome to meet anywhere they want, but caucuses held anywhere but Grand Rapids will not be recognized.

“They can count their votes but they don’t go anywhere,” he said.

Delegates to Saturday’s GOP caucuses will select 39 of Michigan’s 55 delegates to attend the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July. Trump won last Tuesday’s primary that also selected the other 16 delegates.

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