Michigan GOP Elects Trumpist Conspiracy Theorist Kristina Karamo Party Chair

Kristina Karamo, Michigan GOP chair and 2022 candidate for Secretary of State (Image from pre-election CBS Detroit interview.)

Kristina Karamo, the Republican Party’s 2022 nominee for Michigan Secretary of State, was trounced in that election by 14 percentage points, but that didn’t stop GOP activists from selecting her as chair of the state party at a Feb. 18 convention.

Although Karamo defeated the Trump-backed candidate Matt DePerno, who lost his election for state attorney general last year and is currently being investigated for his role in accessing voting machines in 2020, Trump congratulated her as “a powerful and fearless Election Denier” and a sign of “the Party’s takeover by Trump loyalists.”

After Karamo’s selection as state party chair, she appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room show where she called Michigan “ground zero for the globalist takeover of the United States of America” and denounced President Joe Biden as a “traitor” and “illegitimate president” who “needs to be impeached.”

Karamo made a name for herself among MAGA activists by pushing Trump’s false stolen-election claims after the 2020 election. In an August 2022 roundup of far-right candidates in that month’s primaries, Right Wing Watch summarized Karamo this way: “Beyond her stolen-election conspiracy theories, Karamo has also baselessly claimed that anti-fascist activists are to blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, said that evolution should not be taught in schools, and said that the LGBTQ movement is part of ‘Satan’s war against humans.’”

Karamo’s secretary of state bid was supported by Transformation Michigan, which is associated with the dominionist Oak Initiative and New Apostolic Reformation. On Sunday, the pro-Trump prayer warriors at Intercessors for America shared a Gateway Pundit column celebrating Karamo’s election as state GOP chair and calling her a “conservative rock star.”

Trump-supporting pastor Shane Vaughn also congratulated Karamo on his livestream Tuesday night, saying that God had raised her up after “they took the election from her.” Vaughn has called for statewide versions of the electoral college to give rural Republican voters the power to block the election of Democratic candidates statewide even if those candidates get the most votes.

Before the 2022 election, Karamo filed a lawsuit unsuccessfully trying to get tens of thousands of mail-in ballots in Detroit disqualified and demanding changes in election administration. Her lawsuit cited Dinesh D’Souza’s propaganda film “2000 Mules,” whose claims about election fraud have been widely debunked.  After the 2022 secretary of state election in which she lost by more than 615,000 votes, Karamo refused to concede and made multiple unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Her bid for party chair was endorsed by another defeated Trumpist secretary of state candidate, Arizona’s Mark Finchem.

In a blunt assessment of the impact of Karamo’s election on the future prospects for the Michigan Republican Party, The Bulwark’s senior editor Jim Swift noted Tuesday that Michigan voters have rejected the state GOP’s swing “toward extreme MAGA.” Democrats flipped both chambers of the state legislature last year while decisively reelecting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which Swift sees as evidence that the selection of Karamo as party chair is doubling down on a losing strategy.