Donald Trump backs Michigan election critic for secretary of state

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Former President Donald Trump is supporting Republican Kristina Karamo, an outspoken critic of the 2020 election, to be Michigan's next secretary of state, a development that will likely bolster her campaign.

Trump announced his endorsement of Karamo to be Michigan's top election official on Tuesday, saying the Oak Park educator is "strong on crime, including the massive crime of election fraud." Karamo traveled to Arizona in June to view that state's audit of the 2020 vote and has said there's "overwhelming evidence" that gives residents "reasonable concerns" about the result in Michigan.

Kristina Karamo

"Kristina will fight for you like no other, and of equal importance, she will fight for justice," Trump said in a statement. "Good luck Kristina, and while you're at it, check out the fake election results that took place in the city of Detroit."

Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points in 2020 in Michigan. Dozens of audits by election officials, a series of court rulings and an investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate have upheld the result.

However, Trump and his supporters, including Karamo, have continued to levy unsubstantiated claims of fraud that they believe call the outcome into question. In June, Karamo appeared at a rally in Antrim County focused on unproven claims of wrongdoing in the election with Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, and former state Sen. Pat Colbeck of Canton Township, whom Dominion Voting Systems has accused of spreading disinformation.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, is expected to seek reelection in 2022.

Karamo is one of two Republicans who've formed committees to seek the GOP nomination. The other is Cathleen Postmus, the clerk in Plainfield Township. State Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton Township, a former clerk and chairwoman of the House Elections Committee, has also been weighing a bid, but Trump's endorsement of Karamo likely makes her path more difficult.

The Republican nominee will be chosen by GOP delegates during a convention on April 23. Many of the delegates hold positive views of Trump despite his loss in the 2020 election.

An instructor who works for Wayne County Community College, Karamo gained national attention after raising concerns about what she saw working as a poll challenger in Detroit in November. She testified before the state Senate Oversight Committee on Dec. 1 and signed onto a brief that attempted to give the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to certify election results.

"We're appealing to you guys to do something about it," Karamo told state senators in December after detailing two incidents in which she claimed to have witnessed election workers interpret ballots in ways that benefited Democrats.

In 2018, Karamo lost a primary race for a seat on the Oakland County Commission, getting 39% in a two-person contest. Even before Trump's endorsement on Tuesday, some Michigan Republicans already viewed her as the favorite to be the party's secretary of state nominee for 2022.

Benson won her first term as secretary of state by 9 percentage points over Republican Mary Treder Lang in 2018.