Failed Republican candidates for Michigan statewide office want to give losing another go. Three 2022 midterm candidates who were backed by Trump — and all rejected by Michigan voters at the polls — think that they have what it takes to lead their state’s Republican Party.
Perhaps they mean to lead it into the ground.
Both Kristina Karamo, the election-denying GOP candidate for Secretary of State, and Matthew DePerno, who lost his bid to unseat Attorney General Dana Nessel, have announced plans to run to become chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial loser Tudor Dixon is said to be “contemplating” a run.
The trio lost handily in November, but for some reason believe they’d be the best choice to put the state party on a winning track.
For the first time since the 1980s, Michigan has a Democrat trifecta – not only holding on to major statewide offices but flipping the legislature blue.
The position of GOP chair is an important one, and important to the success of the party in the state.
With the controversy surrounding Karamo, Dixon, and DePerno in their respective races, it may be difficult to convince the party that backing any one of them is a good move.
There’s also an internal battle brewing between the grassroots arm of the party and more centrist conservatives, Associated Press reported.
“This race is unique because it’s the fruition of the very long battle between grassroots elements and the so-called establishment,” said right-wing consultant, John Selleck.
“For the first time, this race is a choice between multiple MAGA candidates, meaning the grassroots may have finally taken over,” Selleck added.
Or maybe not.
While those in rural areas may be MAGA fanatics, the midterms were an indictment of the fringe elements of the party as moderate Republicans overwhelmingly rejected Trump-endorsed candidates who pushed conspiracy theories about a stolen election.
Dixon blamed the losses on the grassroots movement, something that Paul Cordes, the current Michigan GOP chief of staff, supports.
Cordes credits the “lack of high quality, substantive candidates and well-funded campaigns” as the main reasons for losing.
“Over the course of this cycle, the Michigan Republican Party operated within the political reality that President Trump was popular amongst our grassroots and a motivating factor for his supporters, but provided challenges on a statewide ballot, especially with independents and women in the midterm election,” Cordes wrote.
Karamo recently posted a statement on social media criticizing the Michigan Republican party, accusing it of being run like “mini-gangs instead of soldiers fighting for free.”
The community college professor also claimed the state is on the “precipice of tyranny, which voting alone will not be able to overcome.”
Voting could overcome Karamo’s predictions if one-third of the country wasn’t hell-bent on denying the 2020 election results and spreading conspiracies about the election being stolen in an attempt to undermine faith in the country’s democratic processes.
With current Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser stepping down, the new chair will be chosen during the February 18 convention by delegates themselves selected by their county precinct.
One of those delegates, Republican consultant Jamie Roe, had some harsh words for the wanna-be party chairs, saying “There’s no way on God’s earth that the donors of the state would entrust a DePerno or Karamo with the resources needed to regain power.”
“There will have to be something done outside the traditional structure,” she added.
DePerno thinks he has the “right stuff” to unite the centrist and grassroots arms of the party, citing donor support.
“The legacy donors, although they didn’t want to publicly support candidates that they thought were associated with Donald Trump, they did support me at least through third-party PACS,” DePerno said, according to the Associated Press.
What the former tax attorney conveniently leaves out is that his support from the ex-President wasn’t the only thing that may have had a hand in alienating voters and big-money donors.
DePerno ran a vicious campaign against his opponent Dana Nessel — frightening his opponent enough that she feared for her life. The Republican candidate for AG ran commercials demonizing Nessel and promising to “lock her up” if he was elected.
Before winning, Nessel said she may be forced to leave her home state of Michigan if she lost the race — all because of her opponent’s brutal verbal attacks.
DePerno is currently under investigation for his role in attempting to breach voting machines after the election. A special prosecutor was assigned to oversee the case — Nessel recused herself to avoid a conflict of interest.
While Karamo, Dixon, and DePerno have their sights set on the state’s top GOP spot, the battle may not be as easy to win as they think.
Michigan has a pretty centrist voting base, and if the midterms were any indication of where the people are looking — it’s to the future, not to the past.
The Republican party isn’t what it once was, and voters know it.
Democratic Pary chair Lavora Barnes thinks the discord within the GOP is a good thing for Democrats, saying it’s “The biggest gift the Republicans can give us is infighting within the state party and nominating candidates who are crazy and right of crazy.”
“I think that will help us hold the legislature going forward.”
Let’s hope that she’s right.
Original reporting by Joey Cappelletti at the Associated Press.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick