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Donald Trump dominates Michigan GOP caucuses, builds on delegate lead

Trump delegates dominated Michigan GOP presidential nominating caucuses on Saturday in Grand Rapids. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Former President Donald Trump dominated Michigan's GOP caucuses on Saturday, winning all 39 delegates
  • The caucuses follow Trump’s win in the Michigan primary over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Some Michigan GOP delegates were not allowed at the convention following a state party leadership feud

GRAND RAPIDS — Delegates in the fractured Michigan Republican Party rallied behind a common goal Saturday, voting in overwhelming numbers to make Donald Trump the party’s presidential nominee. 

Trump won all 39 delegates at stake in 13 separate congressional district caucus meetings at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. He was the unanimous choice of four districts and won more than 89% of votes in each of the caucuses.

The sweep follows Trump's big win in Michigan's primary on Tuesday over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, earning him 51 of the state's 55 delegates at the Republican National Convention in July in Milwaukee, where the party selects its presidential nominee.

“Even with divisions on some things, we’re still united on the important stuff,” said Jesse Opsemer, who led Saturday’s 1st Congressional District caucus after Chair Daire Rendon refused to participate because of a state party leadership feud. 


Trump and President Joe Biden are on course for a rematch in November. Trump lost to Biden in Michigan in 2020 and now faces a host of criminal charges and civil cases.

Michigan Republicans are rallying around Trump and beating Biden “unifies us even more,” said state House Minority Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township. 

 “Just look at what Biden has done the last four years,” Hall told Bridge, citing high inflation and the economy.

The state party traditionally relies on the Michigan primary to award its presidential nominating delegates but developed the hybrid caucus system after the Democratic-state Legislature moved the primary up to Feb. 27 from March. 

That violated RNC rules and would have resulted in a penalty. 

The caucus convention followed months of division in the Michigan GOP. In January, a faction of state committee delegates voted to oust Chair Kristina Karamo, later replacing her with Pete Hoekstra, a former U.S. representative and ambassador.

A Kent County judge on Tuesday ruled that Karamo was properly removed. The Michigan Court of Appeals on Thursday denied her bid to retake the party ahead of the Saturday caucuses, which she had planned to hold in Detroit. 

Republican delegates from several Michigan counties were denied entry to the Grand Rapids caucuses because their chairs – loyal to Karamo – had not submitted their names to Hoekstra in time to participate. 

That meant light turnout in some districts, including the 4th, where Chair Ken Beyer had called his own separate meeting in Battle Creek to protest the state party chair he referred to this week as “Adolf Hoaxstra.”

Michigan GOP Chair Pete Hoekstra joined a 4th Congressional District caucus vote for Donald Trump. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)

Speaking with reporters Saturday, Hoekstra acknowledged that some delegates “are disappointed.” 

He said he had hoped to find a way to allow more delegates to participate, but was unable to do so under state party rules.

But with more than 1,900 other delegates credentialed to participate, “to me it looks like we’re pretty well beyond party noise,” Hoekstra said. “There’s a whole bunch of people that are ready to move on.”

In the 1st District, where Rendon also organized a separate caucus meeting in Houghton Lake, Republicans who gathered in Grand Rapids voted to bar delegates from Charlevoix County who had made the nearly three-hour drive. 

“It’s really unfortunate,” said state Rep. Neil Friske, R-Charlevoix, who was an at-large delegate. “We got Republicans voting to not allow Republicans to vote.”

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