Pete Hoekstra officially replaces Kristina Karamo as Michigan GOP chair official: judge

Pete Hoekstra has officially replaced Kristina Karamo as chair of the Michigan Republican party according a ruling by Circuit Judge Joseph Rossi in Grand Rapids.
Pete Hoekstra has officially replaced Kristina Karamo as chair of the Michigan Republican party according a ruling by Circuit Judge Joseph Rossi in Grand Rapids.

A state judge ruled Tuesday that Kristina Karamo was properly ousted as the Michigan GOP chair after she refused to accept former ambassador and congressman Pete Hoekstra as her replacement.

Earlier this month the National Republican Party officially recognized Hoekstra as the state's party chair in a vote that confirmed Karamo was removed from the role last month. However, Karamo refused to step down and instead clenched to her title maintaining control of the state party's bank accounts and its website.

The former poll watcher is now barred from falsely calling herself the state party's chair and will no longer have access to its bank accounts or postal boxes, per Circuit Judge Joseph Rossi's ruling.

Karamo, who was in the Grand Rapids courtroom, called the ruling "egregious." While a possible appeal is pending and a trial in the case is scheduled for June, she said she would abide by the decision.

"I have to comply with the judge's order," she said. "I'm not going to jail."

Two opposing GOP conventions scheduled for March 2

The judge's ruling in Kent County may offer clarity on which of the conflicting Republican conventions scheduled on Saturday is legitimate.

Karamo first scheduled a March 2 convention last month in Detroit and Hoekstra announced one last week in Grand Rapids. With Hoekstra as the true chair, his convention is most likely where the allocation of 39 of the state’s 55 presidential delegates will take place.

The selected delegates will attend the National Republican Convention in Milwaukee from July 15 to 18.

USA TODAY reached out to the RNC and Michigan GOP on what the ruling means for the opposing conventions.

What to know: Michigan's presidential primary election and its Republican party split

Why was Kristina Karamo ousted?

Karamo was removed from her role as chair after hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt accumulated since she was elected last year.

Many of Karamo’s supporters lost faith in her after infighting became a reoccurring problem in the party in recent months, the Associated Press reported. The backlash has caused party leaders to call for her resignation.

During her candidacy last year, Karamo promised to lead the state through the 2024 election. She also said she would rebuild the state party into, "a political machine that strikes fear in the heart of Democrats," per AP, following historic losses in the 2022 midterms.

Trump expected to win delegates

Regardless of the outcome of whether Karamo or Hoekstra was the party's chair, Trump was expected to win the party's delegates.

In a news release after the judge's ruling Tuesday, Hoekstra said there is a unanimous agreement that he is the new chairman between the MIGOP State Committee, the RNC, Trump and now "a court of law."

"It is time to unite and move forward with the business of delivering the state of Michigan for our party’s presumptive nominee, Donald J. Trump," Hoekstra said.

Contributing: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judge rules Pete Hoekstra is Michigan GOP chair, not Kristina Karamo