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Michigan GOP expected to unite behind Trump despite internal strife at nominating convention

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan GOP convention in Grand Rapids on Saturday will allocate 39 of the state’s 55 GOP presidential delegates, but a significant portion of the party’s grassroots force won’t be attending due to the lingering aftereffects of a months-long dispute over who is leading the party.

Still amid the division, chaos and legal disputes, the party is expected to unite behind one candidate Saturday: former President Donald Trump.

Trump won Michigan’s Feb. 27 Republican primary handily, receiving 68% of the vote compared to rival Nikki Haley’s 27%.

The win gave a clear indication of Trump’s standing in Michigan ahead of November, but a majority of Michigan’s GOP delegates will be awarded Saturday.

Michigan Republicans were forced to split their primary into two parts after Democrats who control the state government moved Michigan into the early primary states, violating the national Republican party’s rules.

Trump, who has won every presidential contest in which he’s appeared on the ballot and earned 122 delegates, is expected to lock up the party’s nomination soon after Super Tuesday.

Saturday’s convention comes just days after a Kent County judge affirmed that former Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo was removed properly by party members in January. The decision officially hands the state party over to former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, whom the Republican National Committee recognized last month.

At least 24 county GOP parties will not be sending precinct delegates — who are tasked with allocating the presidential delegates — due to not registering for the convention in time. Many of the county GOP parties denied access were loyal to Karamo and had waited to see what the court’s final ruling would be.

Before being ousted and eventually barred from the chair position by a judge, Karamo had planned for the convention to take place at the Huntington Place in Detroit.

Daire Rendon, chairwoman for the 1st Congressional District Republican committee, called Hoekstra’s decision not to let some counties attend “not acceptable” and said that the group denied access would be holding their own convention in northern Michigan.

“The grassroots are watching their party being stolen from them,” said Rendon, a former GOP state representative who is on trial for tampering with election machines following the 2020 election.

Counties had been given multiple warnings to register for the Grand Rapids convention before the deadline, according to Oakland County GOP chair Vance Patrick. He added that alternate delegates would fill slots vacated by the absent county parties.

The intraparty chaos is expected to have little impact on the allocation of presidential delegates, with Patrick saying he is “pretty confident” Trump will win all 39 delegates at play. Trump has a firm grasp on nearly all aspects of Michigan’s Republican Party and endorsed Hoekstra amid the intra-party squabble this winter.

Appealing to voters outside of Trump’s base will likely be a deciding factor in whether he can win the critical swing state in November. In Tuesday’s primary, Trump did worse in suburban counties such as Oakland and Kent, which were key in his loss of Michigan four years ago.

Joey Cappelletti, The Associated Press

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