Far-right Black conservative Kristina Karamo has been elected by Michigan Republicans to lead the state’s Republican Party. Karamo became a well-known figure after the 2020 election, falsely claiming widespread election fraud and supporting Donald Trump’s lie that he won the presidential race. She now leads a state Republican Party that has lost significant ground in Michigan for its support for Trump and his right-wing politics.
Karamo won the Michigan race against 9 opponents who competed at the party’s state convention to lead the GOP. In three rounds of voting over 11 hours, Karamo emerged over her main rival, Trump-backed candidate Matt DePerno. Karamo largely distinguished herself from her competitors by presenting herself as a staunch Christian conservative. “My goal number one as a Christian is to bring people to Christ, and secondarily to save our country,” she declared, while also denouncing evolution. Although one Republican delegate was ““disgusted with [Karamo] wrapping Christianity around Republicanism,” Karamo’s words were persuasive for many of the others, who ultimately supported her.
Although Trump backed on of her opponents, Karamo and many of the other candidates echoed the former president’s conspiracy theories and far-right rhetoric. Before running for the role of Michigan Party Chairwoman, Karamo first came to prominence as a supporter of Trump’s claims that he won the 2020 election. Making unproven claims of witnessing irregularities in tabulating votes in Michigan, she appeared on multiple Fox News shows and other media outlets driving these claims. Karamo was supported by Trump when she ran for Michigan Secretary of State in 2022. She lost that race by a wide margin but, like Trump, refused to concede the race.
Now, Karamo will bring her election-denying viewpoint to a Michigan Republican Party that has increasingly lost touch with voters. Both Karamo and DePerno lost 2022 their races to be Secretary of State and Attorney General, respectively. Democrats control both houses of the Michigan legislature, and the state has a Democratic governor as well. And a majority of its representatives to Congress, including both the state’s senators, are Democrats as well. And Trump, who won the state narrowly in 2016, lost Michigan to Joe Biden in 2020. While Karamo’s rhetoric may make her popular within the Republican Party in the state, it remains to be seen whether she will be able to turn around the GOP poor election performance in recent years.
Karamo has made history as the first Black person to serve as chair of Michigan’s Republican Party. But for her and for Michigan Republicans in general, their election denying rhetoric, far-right beliefs and Trump affiliations have largely overshadowed any other parts of their message that could potentially appeal to voters. The election of Karamo makes it clear that Michigan’s Republican Party does not intent to become more moderate any time soon.