Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

In Michigan GOP court fight, Karamo loses first round

Kristina Karamo talking into the microphone
Kristina Karamo claims she’s still chair of the Michigan Republican Party, but a lawsuit argues otherwise (Bridge file photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Judge rejects Kristina Karamo’s request to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to force her out as Michigan Republican Party chair
  • Arguments will continue as plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction and declaratory ruling against Karamo
  • Critics say they voted Karamo out on Jan. 6 and replaced her with former Ambassador Pete Hoekstra, who has Donald Trump’s backing

GRAND RAPIDS — A lawsuit seeking to strip Kristina Karamo of her remaining power in the Michigan Republican Party can proceed after a judge on Tuesday rejected her motion to dismiss the case on technical grounds. 

At issue is whether Karamo was properly removed as state party chair on Jan. 6. She has called that vote by one faction of the state committee an "illegal" move by critics who later chose to replace her with former Ambassador Pete Hoekstra.


In a ruling from the bench, Kent County Judge J. Joseph Rossi rejected Karamo's argument that the Michigan GOP leadership dispute amounts to a "political question" that courts cannot decide. He also rejected claims that Karamo deserved special protections as a state officer — which she is not. 

"Therefore, the entirety of the motion to dismiss this case is denied at this time," Rossi said in a nearly 30-minute explanation. 


The decision sets the stage for continued arguments Wednesday and Thursday, when Rossi is set to consider a separate request by Karamo’s critics for a preliminary injunction and declaratory ruling that she is no longer chair. 

Rossi acknowledged the urgency of the case: The Michigan GOP is set to hold a caucus convention on March 2 that will help decide whether Donald Trump or Nikki Haley will be the party’s presidential nominee this fall. 

Karamo is organizing a convention at the Huntington Place in Detroit. Hoekstra, who Trump has recognized as state party chair, said last week he is planning a separate convention but has not yet publicly announced a location. 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Karamo’s former Co-Chair Malinda Pego, Administrative Vice Chair Ali Hossein, Coalitions Vice Chair Hassan Nehme, 8th Congressional District Chair Anne DeLisle and other state committee members who voted to remove Karamo on Jan. 6. 

“We’re very, very pleased with the court’s ruling,” Jonathan Lauderbach, an attorney for plaintiffs, told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing. “We look forward to the next two days.”

Donald Campbell, an attorney for Karamo, said he appreciated the “judge’s consideration” but declined further comment on the ongoing case. 

A ‘coup’ or ‘proper’ ouster?

In oral arguments, Campbell likened the Jan. 6 vote to a “coup,” noting roughly 40 state committee members voted to remove Karamo but at least 53 others have since voted to confirm her as state party chair. 

“What we would have here is a true usurpation of the party by a minority…to remove our democratically elected chair,” Campbell said, referencing the February 2023 delegate vote that Karamo won to become state party chair. 

“Families sometimes don't get along, but they're still family,” he said.  “It’s a classic intra-party political dispute that the court should not take up.”

Karamo’s election last year completed a grassroots takeover of the state party by activists largely inspired to action by Trump. But her tenure has been marked by controversy, including significant fundraising struggles and internal fights, including at least two physical altercations. 

Trump has effectively abandoned Karamo and in an Oakland County rally on Saturday again recognized Hoekstra as the Michigan GOP chair. The Republican National Committee has also ruled in Hoekstra’s favor, but Karamo has argued the RNC has no authority over the state party and has refused to step aside. 


As of Tuesday, the Karamo administration still controls the Michigan GOP bank accounts, social media accounts and computer systems, including email. 

Karamo’s refusal amounts to a breach of contract because she was properly removed under state party rules, the plaintiffs’ attorney argued Tuesday. 

“This case is about three things: Bylaws, bylaws, bylaws,” Lauderbach said. “Once you adopt rules, you have to follow them.”

“We need clarity,” Lauderback said in oral arguments.

“We need somebody to say — and unfortunately judge, we’re putting it on your bench — that either the Jan. 6 meeting was property called or wasn’t properly called, and whether there was a proper vote or there wasn’t. That’s it.”

How impactful was this article for you?

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now