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History in the Making! Kristina Karamo & Malinda Pego Win MIGOP Chair & Co-Chair Race

By, Benj Spencer & Michelle Hazekamp

February 21, 2023

State Convention, 2023

The Michigan Republican Party State Convention took place over the weekend of February 17 & 18 for the purpose of state-wide Precinct Delegates to elect new leadership in the MIGOP. The event was held at the Lansing Center in Downtown Lansing, beginning Friday evening with the Congressional District Conventions. Saturday made way for the battle of top positions and after 11 grueling hours, the Michigan Precinct Delegates chose who would lead the new MIGOP. See MIGOP press release here.

Defying All Odds

On Saturday, February 18, 2023, defying all odds, against a field of 10 other candidates, the Karamo-Pego team dominated all three rounds of voting, winning the Michigan Republican Party race for Chair and Co-Chair. It's a classic David v. Goliath story and you just love to see it.

They ran their campaign on a shoestring budget against several well-funded campaigns. Though she was endorsed by President Trump in her Secretary of State race, he along with Kari Lake and Mike Lindell chose to endorse Matt DePerno. But the delegates who know, love, and trust Karamo and Pego felt much differently.

Defying the odds is not the only thing that makes this story so phenomenal. Kristina Karamo is the first black woman to Chair a political party organization and to add the icing to the cake, she was elected during Black History Month! We have truly witnessed history in the making, right here in Michigan!

Less Money; More Heart

Karamo's volunteers on the floor had noticeably more passion, energy, and actual precinct lanyards than other candidates. And noticeably LESS signs, emails and text blasts. One thing was clear, other candidates may have had more money and endorsements, but Karamo had the hearts of the delegates. All three rounds of voting they increased their lead, ultimately wining 58% to 42% against DePerno-Soldano. It was a landslide victory!

Kristina Karamo

As you may know Kristina Karamo and Malinda Pego, our current chair of the Muskegon Republican Party, were enthusiastically endorsed by the Muskegon County Republican Executive Committee as well as many other counties, for Chair and Co-Chair of MRP.

Karamo captured the hearts of Michigan delegates ever since her run for SOS. Her message for election integrity transitioned well into this race because many delegates felt MRP did not do enough to fight back in the 2020 election. Her message of Party renewal includes combating election corruption, earning the trust and credibility with delegates, and beating the democrats at their own game within the new election rules. She intends to ramp up outreach to previously ignored voters, and expand avenues of fundraising.

After first thanking her Lord and savior Jesus Christ, Karamo stated, "Malinda and I are committed to keeping every promise that we made. We will not betray you. We will not lie to you. We are committed to every promise we made."

Her voice cuts through the air in such a way that, when she speaks, everyone listens. Her sincere passion, pure integrity, and tone of urgency resonates through the atmosphere like a force of nature. Hear her for yourself in her acceptance speech below.

Malinda Pego

Malinda Pego in her own right has been a catalyst for change and an inspiration to the state party. As Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Muskegon County party, she and her team in Muskegon have made our county party into an example to encourage and strengthen surrounding counties in West Michigan and throughout the state.

We went from an effectively dormant county party to one that is ALWAYS ON. Our regular events and trainings aren't just attended by volunteers in Muskegon, but by surrounding counties as well.

The collaborative relationships she has built with other counties to achieve their goals has helped grassroots delegates to take control of their parties in Ottawa, Kent, Newaygo and other counties, revive their county parties and gain ground politically.

Known for her insane work ethic, several of the chair candidates asked Pego to be their Co-Chair. Her wisdom to partner with Karamo, and equally hard-working activism is going to bring dramatic change to our party.

Our New State Party

The recent State Convention for the Michigan Republican Party has been a long anticipated event as grassroots Delegates eagerly sought to remove the old "establishment" from power and hand over the reigns of the party to a new leadership of integrity, honesty and servitude for the citizens of Michigan. The leadership positions that were up for grabs this year included MIGOP Chair & Co-Chair and 6 Vice Chair positions; Grassroots, Administrative, Coalitions, Outreach, Ethnic and Youth.

Multiple candidate and candidate teams ran in the GOP Chair/Co-Chair race. Precinct Delegates would vote at the State Convention to determine which of the following candidates would be given the privilege to lead our state.

MIGOP Chair/Co-Chair Candidates:

  • Matthew Deperno/Garrett Soldano

  • Kristina Karamo/Malinda Pego

  • Scott Greenlee

  • Kent Boersema/Lando Estrada

  • Michael Farage

  • JD Glaser/James Stewart

  • Billy Putman/Sandy Kiesel

  • Mark Forton/ Lisa Mankiewicz

  • Drew Born

MIGOP Vice Chairs (6)

  • Grassroots - Marian Sheridan

  • Administrative - Ali Hossein

  • Outreach - Rola Makki

  • Coalitions - Hassan Nehme

  • Ethnics - Bernadette Smith

  • Youth - Rylee Linting

From left to right: Ali Hossein (Administrative), Rola Makki (Outreach), Bernadette Smith ( Ethnic), Kristina Karamo (MIGOP Chair), Malinda Pego (MIGOP Co-Chair), Rylee Linting (Youth), and Hassan Nehme (Coalitions). Missing: Marian Sheridan (Grassroots).

Congressional District Caucus's

The Michigan Republican State Convention was a two day event, beginning Friday evening with the Congressional District Conventions. After a state redistricting of congressional lines in 2021 based on new census results from 2020, newly formed districts convened Friday night to elect new Congressional District leadership. Each of the 13 Districts assembled in separate rooms of the Lansing Center where candidates were elected by their district Delegates to represent them.

Each district elected a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, six State Committee members and 15 Executive Committee Members. Many District Conventions went quickly without issues, while others ran into the late hours of the night due to candidate challenges and voting issues.

Muskegon County, previously in District 2, became a split county during redistricting, and is now part of Congressional Districts 2 & 3. The following are the newly elected 2nd & 3rd District Officers and Committee Members & the counties they represent:

2nd District Chair - Andrew Sebolt; Oceana County Vice Chair - Kathy Fleming; Osceola County Treasurer - Eric Rothoff; Muskegon County

Secretary - Sheila Tenwalde; Gladwin County

State Committeemen: Randy Guppy; Newaygo Tim Ross; Ionia Jon Rocha; Barry

State Committeewomen: Nikki Koons; Manistee Bree Moeggenberg; Isabella Stephanie Rectenwal;Montcalm

Executive Committee; Members: Ryan Anderson; Ottawa Elise Bennett; Isabella Faye Graves; Mecosta Kevin Green; Kent Michelle Jorgensen; Montcalm Don Kreuze; Kent Arthur McClintic; Gratiot Rick McCoy; Eaton Rebecca Robinson; Mason Joan Runnels; Lake Jeanette Snyder; Midland Larry Szyska; Clare Art Stevens; Wexford Cyndi Twichell; Barry Kristie Walls; Ionia

3rd District:

Chair - Dan Cool; Ottawa VIce Chair - Jennifer Hendricks; Kent Treasurer - Lance Elliot Griffin; Kent Secretary - Michelle Hazekamp; Muskegon

State Committeemen: Matt Johnson; Muskegon Greg Todd; Ottawa John Schaut; Kent

State Committeewomen: Deb Null; Muskegon Bonnie Burke; Kent Peggy Doornbos; Ottawa

Executive Committee: Kent Cindy Alberta, Heather Anderson, Stefanie Boone, Dan Essex, Eric Fouch, David Heyboer, Josie Kornev, Dennis Nagel, Alexa Otte, Terri Royce Ottawa Rich Carlson, Chip Netzer, Stephanie Netzel Muskegon Aaron Kleinheksel Kim Fiorenzo

Rebuilding MRP

In their campaign Karamo-Pego achieved bigger results with less resources. With MRP struggling financially already, we need leaders who know how to work with very little and then grow and flourish from there. Just like Pego has done in Muskegon County and West Michigan, the Karamo-Pego team will do state-wide, and with the support of new grassroots districts eager to join forces and build a better Republican Party for Michigan . We now have a state leadership that is in sync with its base, and of course, most importantly, dependent on God.

God Bless Michigan!

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