Michigan Republicans were meeting Saturday to pick candidates for statewide races that former President Donald Trump has sought to sway while flirting with another run for the White House.
About 2,000 party delegates cast ballots in an initial round of voting at a convention center in downtown Grand Rapids. The event is a test of Trump’s clout in closely watched contests for attorney general and secretary of state — Michigan’s top law enforcement and elections jobs, which are currently held by Democrats.
Trump backed his allies Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state, even holding a rally for them weeks ago. The political newcomers support his false claims about his 2020 loss in the swing state.
Karamo, a community college instructor, defeated state Rep. Beau LaFave and Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry after securing two-thirds of the vote. DePerno, a lawyer, also fared well but was just shy of the majority needed in a three-person field, prompting a second round of voting to begin.
“I will not let you down,” Karamo. “I’m fighting for the people of Michigan irrespective of political affiliation.”
The winners of the endorsement convention should have a clear path to being officially nominated at a second convention in August and facing Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in November.
Trump has said his preferred candidates would not let Michigan be stolen in the next presidential election.
Trump’s slate has drawn criticism, however, within a wing of the GOP that views the candidates as unelectable in the fall and is frustrated that state party’s leaders openly backed them rather than be neutral.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press