LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who lost races for Michigan’s top three state offices after promoting lies about the 2020 presidential election aren’t going to go easy.

Two of the candidates who denied President Joe Biden a victory in the state have announced plans to run for state Republican Party leader, while a third said she is considering a run for the top job.

This causes concern in the party after that hit by hits in Michigan, a perennial political battleground poised to play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential race. Their attempts to gain control of the party apparatus also show how far-right conservatives are trying to maintain their power at the party grassroots at that time The Republican Party nationally is struggling with its direction after lackluster interim results.

Christina Karamo, community college professor lost the race for the position of secretary of state after the campaign filled with electoral conspiraciesannounced her intention to run for party chairman in Michigan, used the same tense language she used during her campaign.

In a statement posted on social media this week, she said the state’s Republican Party has become “mini-gangs instead of soldiers fighting for freedom” and that the state is on “the precipice of tyranny, that voting alone will not possible”. able to overcome.”

Instead of fearing attacks, she wrote, “we must strike fear into the hearts of the enemy at the gates.”

The race for Michigan Republican Party chairman, which will be decided at the party’s February convention, will take place after Democrats took control of all levels of government for the first time since the 1980s. Democrats gained control of both houses of the legislature and defeated Republicans by large margins in the elections for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

Many state and national Republicans have expressed concern that such defeats could become commonplace without a course correction in the state GOP.

“It’s hard to think of a state where Republicans have lost more than Michigan,” said Stu Sandler, a Republican national consultant. The state party has not been the traditional partner it has been in the past, he said, in part because of a chair he described as not very active.

“The seat could be very important, particularly because they don’t have a statewide elected official or a prominent Republican as a voice, and that’s what a seat can be under the right circumstances,” Sandler said.

In addition to Karamo, attorney general candidate Matthew DePerna has announced he will run for the position. Republican Tudor Dixon, who lost the governor’s race by 11 percentage points Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, said that she is also considering running for office.

All three candidates were endorsed by former President Donald Trump and repeated his false statements of a stolen election — although Dixon backed away from her earlier claims after she won the Republican primary for governor.

“This race is unique because it is the product of a very long battle between the grassroots and the so-called establishment,” said John Selleck, a Republican consultant in Michigan. “For the first time, this race is a choice between multiple MAGA candidates, meaning the grassroots may have finally prevailed.”

In a state party memo written days after the Nov. 8 election and shared on social media by Dixon, the Republicans’ midterm loss was blamed on a grassroots takeover. Michigan Republican Party chief of staff Paul Cordes wrote that the party is struggling because of a lack of “high-quality, substantial candidates and well-funded campaigns.”

“Throughout this cycle, the Michigan Republican Party has operated in the political reality that President Trump has been popular with our grassroots and a motivating factor for his supporters, but has created problems at the polls across the state, particularly with independent candidates and women in the midterm elections. . “, – wrote Cordes.

The note also referred to an voting on abortion rights proposal which passed by an overwhelming majority, as one of the reasons for the purge of Democrats. Candidates in the state also ran in new districts drawn by an independent citizen commission that had previously been created by ballot, instead of heavily rigged districts that were drawn by Republican lawmakers.

Dixon responded by saying the memo was a “perfect example of what’s wrong” with the party and that there was a “leadership problem”.

Current chair Ron Weiser has said he will not seek re-election, while co-chair Mashon Maddock has not announced whether she will run. Michigan Republican Party spokesman Gustavo Portello said the party would not comment further on the race for the seat.

Like the party convention last spring, where the delegates nominated DePerne and Karamo, the position of chairman will be elected by the delegates of the district precinct during the convention on February 18. Jamie Rowe, a Republican consultant and district delegate, expects the delegates to attend the convention to once again become grassroots activists who prefer candidates supported by Trump.

“There is no way the state’s donors are going to trust DePerne or Karamo with the resources they need to restore power,” Roe said. “Something will have to be done outside of the traditional structure.”

With the convention more than two months away, some in the party are still hopeful that a candidate will emerge who can unite both the grassroots and establishment sides of the party.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who served as ambassador to the Netherlands from 2018 to 2021, said in a recent interview that he is considering a run. State Sen. Tom Barrett, who lost the 7th Congressional District fought against Democrat Elisa Slotkinwas also pushed by Republicans to seek the position, according to spokesman Jason Roe.

DePerna said he believes he can bring both sides of the party together. In an interview on Friday, he said the party needed to be rebuilt to “unite grassroots activists with the legacy donor class.”

“The legacy donors, even though they were reluctant to publicly support candidates they believed to be associated with Donald Trump, they at least supported me through third-party PACs,” DePerna said.

The former tax lawyer gained notoriety in the party by pushing Trump’s lie about stolen state elections after the 2020 presidential election. A is currently being reviewed by a special prosecutor or charge DePerne and others for trying to access voting machines after this election.

Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said the “greatest gift that Republicans can continue to give us” is infighting within the state and nominating candidates who are “crazy and crazy.”

“Looking at this group of people who are interested in running for the seat, I think we might see a little bit of the same in terms of the candidates that those people would support,” Barnes said. “And I think that will help us retain legislative power in the future.”

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This story has been updated to correct the attribution of the quote. An earlier version of this story attributed Jamie Rowe’s comment to Jason Rowe.

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Joey Cappelletti is an Associated Press/Reporting staff member for the US Government News Initiative. Reporting for America is a nonprofit national outreach program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues.

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