GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans are meeting Saturday to pick candidates for statewide races that former President Donald Trump has sought to sway while flirting with another run for the White House.
About 2,500 party delegates will vote at a convention hall in Grand Rapids. The event is a test of Trump’s clout, in closely watched contests for attorney general and secretary of state — Michigan’s top law enforcement and elections jobs that currently are held by Democrats.
Trump is backing his allies Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state, even holding a rally for them weeks ago. The political newcomers support his false claims about his 2020 loss in the swing state. If they win at the “endorsement” convention over other Republicans, they should have a clear path to being officially nominated at a second convention in August and facing Democrats Dana Nessel and Jocelyn Benson in November.
Trump has said his preferred candidates would not let Michigan be “stolen” in the next presidential election. He lost the state by 154,000 votes to Joe Biden.
Trump’s preferred slate has drawn criticism, within a wing of the GOP that views the candidates as unelectable in the fall and is frustrated that state party leaders have openly backed them rather than be neutral.
Nominees for Michigan’s statewide races are chosen at party conventions except in gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries.
DePerno unsuccessfully sued after human error led rural Antrim County to erroneously show a local victory for Biden over Trump. It was quickly corrected but was used to spread misinformation about voting equipment.
DePerno’s main rival for the nomination is Tom Leonard, a former legislative leader and the party’s 2018 nominee. State Rep. Ryan Berman also is running.