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Kristina Karamo: What to know about Michigan GOP secretary of state candidate

Kristina Karamo is running as a Republican for secretary of state.

Nov. 8: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson defeats Trump pick Kristina Karamo

Before November 2020, few people outside of Oakland County knew who Kristina Karamo was. Now, she’s a candidate for statewide office. 

As a poll challenger in Detroit, Karamo rose to prominence after questioning the legitimacy of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election, claiming she witnessed fraud at Detroit’s absentee counting board.

    Her claims landed her interviews on national conservative talk shows and earned her the attention of former President Donald Trump, who ultimately endorsed her bid for secretary of state.

    Karamo on Nov. 8 faces Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson, who oversaw the 2020 election and has defended its accuracy.

    Related:

    About

    Karamo, 37, is a former community college instructor who has worked in various other educational and sales roles, as well as a stint as a trivia host. 

    She previously ran for a seat on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and has served in other volunteer political positions, including Right to Life of Michigan’s Black Leadership Committee, communications chair for the Oakland County Republican Party, and the Michigan Republican Party State Committee. 

    Karamo has undergraduate degrees from Oakland University and Biola University, studying communication and media studies and Christian apologetics, the study of facts to defend Christian theology. She has two children. 

    Background

    Karamo rose to  prominence in conservative circles after claiming she witnessed fraud at Detroit’s absentee counting board while working as a poll challenger in November 2020. 

    She submitted an affidavit on an “incident report” document cited in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the official results.

    Among other things, Karamo claimed that an election supervisor told a clerk to “push through” contested ballots that favored Democrats and that ballots were delivered between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., a claim that has been widely debunked.

    Karamo secured the endorsement of Republican delegates at its statewide endorsement convention, beating fellow secretary of state hopefuls Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, and Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry.

    Issues

    As a candidate, Karamo has frequently called for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election and was endorsed by Trump. 

    She counts herself among the “America First” coalition of Trump-aligned secretary of state candidates who supporters say will fix election issues and critics claim would find a way to guarantee Trump wins if he seeks re-election.

    If elected, Karamo says she would continue investigating election fraud claims, but it would not be her sole focus. 

    She has also expressed interest in a thorough review of voting machines used throughout the state to verify their security and in reducing regulations at Secretary of State branch offices.

    Controversies

    Karamo’s extreme theories about the 2020 election have earned criticism nationwide, and Benson has referred to her and Republican attorney candidate Matthew DePerno as election deniers who, if elected, would be in positions where they could block or fail to certify election results they disagree with. 

    Karamo’s past commentary on social issues on her website and podcast have raised eyebrows from critics, who say comments likening abortion to child sacrifice, claiming LGBT people in same-sex relationships reflect society’s “sexual brokenness” and other inflammatory remarks made before she was a candidate should disqualify her from office. 

    In October 2021, Karamo spoke at a conference organized by prominent QAnon conspiracy theory adherents, although her campaign said she personally did not support QAnon.

    Allegations by Karamo’s ex-husband in Oakland County divorce court records that Karamo at one point threatened to harm herself and family have also come up in national media. Karamo has denied the allegation and no other records corroborating the claims have surfaced.

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