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Michigan Deniers

In GOP Leadership

As in other states, Republicans in Michigan had long embraced political pragmatism and business-friendly policies. But the rise of Trumpism and new “America First” activists have led to the party infighting seen elsewhere in the country, with once-prominent Republicans in the state now disparaged as “globalist elites.” By early 2024, the Michigan GOP had become something of “a national punchline,” as ProPublica put it, when recently elected Chair Kristina Karamo—once a favorite of the former president—refused to leave office after the state party voted to oust her in favor of Trump’s latest, less radical pick for the top post. 

At a rally in mid February, Trump introduced former ambassador and congressman Pete Hoekstra as “your new Michigan Republican Party chairman,” which prompted an uproar of boos from those who still support Karamo. The Republican National Committee stands behind the move to replace Karamo with Hoekstra as essential for Trump to win Michigan in 2024.

Still, many see the divisions in the Michigan GOP as less about specific policies or whether or not to support Trump, but rather about the entire concept of America as a democracy. “Today’s Republican insurgents believe democracy has been stolen,” Andy Kroll contends in ProPublica, “and they don’t trust the ability of democratic processes to restore it.”

The following are among the state’s GOP leaders who express unfettered loyalty to Trump and his ongoing claim that any election he doesn’t win is “rigged”:

  • Marian Sheridan | Grassroots Vice Chair
    Marian Sheridan, one of Michigan’s 16 fake electors, is also the former vice chair of the Michigan GOP, director of the Lakes Area Tea Party, cofounder of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, and executive board member of the Oakland County Republican Party. She has pleaded not guilty to the eight criminal charges the state brought against her in July 2023. 
  • Kathy Berden | former National Committeewoman
    Kathy Berden is a former RNC member and one of Michigan’s 16 fake electors. She was arraigned and pleaded not guilty in August 2023 in what is expected to be a lengthy legal process
  • Carrie Mullins | Alcona County Republican Party Chair
    In an MLive piece from 2021, Carrie Mullins says, “Biden did not win.” She adds that “early on there was hope that all the fraud would be brought to light, that election results would be overturned and Trump would be put back in the White House.”
  • Phil Joseph | Barry County Republican Party Chair
    In March 2023, Phil Joseph reposted a J6 conspiracy video on his Twitter/X account, and in February 2022 he wrote a post about the electoral process in Michigan that said, “We need to remove any doubt of [sic] election integrity in our state, and our nation!”
  • Dan Bonamie II | Crawford County Republican Party Chair
    Dan Bonamie routinely spreads lies about voter fraud and election interference on social media and has voiced support for controversial election denier and former Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo on X/Twitter
  • Mary Moylan | Gladwin County Republican Party Chair
    Mary Moylan posts misinformation and lies about voting and election fraud on her personal Facebook page.
  • Larry Leipprandt | Huron County Republican Party Chair
    Larry Leipprandt regularly reposts misinformation about election fraud and election interference conspiracies on Facebook. 
  • Mary Shinkle | Ingham County Republican Party Chair
    Shortly after the 2020 election, Mary Shinkle filed an affidavit in support of a lawsuit the Trump campaign brought in federal court alleging voting irregularities in Wayne County, where she had been a Republican poll watcher. The affidavit claimed that poll workers had been “extremely rude and aggressive” to her and other observers, that she was not allowed to look over the shoulders of poll workers as ballots were processed, and that envelopes and ballot stubs had not been securely stored. As a member of the Michigan Board of Canvassers during the 2020 election, Shinkle’s husband (Norman Shinkle) abstained from certifying the state’s presidential election results.
  • David Chandler | Iosco County Republican Party Chair
    In a March 2024 opinion piece, David Chandler proposes a “constitution for the Republic of Michigan,” which includes eliminating the popular election of most state officials. “Using the so-called Covid pandemic as cover, the powers that be mutilated our voting system in order to win the 2020 elections,” he wrote. “At no time in history has a candidate run a campaign from his cellar to win a presidential race by a landslide of more than 81 million votes! Yet, we’re supposed to believe this narrative as absolute truth.” He also casts doubt on the validity of the charges filed against Trump in New York, and questions the convictions of six J6 participants. Chandler still recognizes prominent election denier and recently ousted Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo as the state party’s chair.
  • Laura Tarsa | Leelanau County Republican Party Chair
    Laura Tarsa uses Twitter/X to post misinformation about election fraud and J6 conspiracies.
  • Mark Forton | Macomb County Republican Party Chair
    Mark Forton has promoted Trump’s claims of a stolen election and remained a “loyalist,” according to the New York Times. In addition, the Macomb County Republican Party was one of the plaintiffs in a suit requesting that a federal judge decertify the 2020 election. In a 2022 video posted to Rumble, Forton said, “Ever since the 2020 election, my vice chair and I have been pushing and pushing… We really haven’t gained much at all in two years. I don’t believe a single iota of our elections has been repaired since 2020…. [They] are just as corrupt today as they were then.” He also defended Michigan’s 16 fake electors after they were charged with election fraud in 2023, maintaining that none of them had broken the law. 
  • Sheila Genter | Mason County Republican Party Chair
    In February 2024, when Sheila Genter spoke at a public forum at the county district library, she made reference to “absentee ballots being sent out [during the 2020 election] when [people] didn’t even apply for one.” She also said, “There was a question as to whether there was voter fraud. We will probably never know because there was no forensic audit.” Genter expressed her preference for paper ballot ballots, and encouraged county residents to volunteer as poll workers and watchers. 
  • Vance Patrick | Oakland County Republican Party Chair
    In 2023, Vance Patrick referred to the felony charges brought against Michigan’s 16 fake electors as “an egregious abuse of power by a radical progressive.” 
  • Carolyn Richards | St. Clair County Republican Party Chair
    In her 2024 State of the County Address, Carolyn Richards prioritized focusing on elections for the year. She wrote, “There has been found corruption in every county of Michigan, including St. Clair County. We will need poll challengers and poll watchers, willing to work at the polls.” She also added that the county party’s Election Committee had presented a multipart resolution acknowledging “that Electronic Voting Equipment/Computer Software are Corruptible, [and] Centralized Control of [the] Voting Process is Dangerous,” and underscoring the importance of maintaining accurate voter rolls.
  • Cheryl Costantino | Wayne County Republican Party Chair
    Shortly after the 2020 election, Cheryl Costantino (who also serves as chair of the 13th District Republican Committee) and Edward McCall filed a lawsuit seeking to discredit Detroit’s election results due to accusations of fraud. The plaintiffs requested an injunction, a protective order and an independent audit. In addition, during a Zoom training session for the 2022 Michigan state primary, Costantino encouraged poll workers and partisan observers to ignore local election rules barring cell phones and pens from polling places/vote-counting centers. She told CNN that she believes these regulations are unconstitutional and should be abolished.
  • Emily DeBoer | Wexford County Republican Party Chair
    The day after the 2020 election, Emily DeBoer retweeted an election fraud claim made by right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza and Donald Trump Jr. She also retweeted a Judicial Watch post about mail-in voting and voter fraud.   
  • Daire Rendon | 1st District Republican Committee Chair
    In 2023, Daire Rendon faced felony charges for her involvement in the effort to tamper with Michigan’s voting machines after the 2020 election. As a state representative at the time, she was specifically charged with conspiracy to commit undue possession of a voting machine under false pretenses.
  • Hima Kolanagireddy | 6th District Republican Committee Chair
    In 2020, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Hima Kolanagireddy as a witness to testify to the Michigan House Oversight Committee that the state should tighten its requirements for voters to provide photo ID, in part because “all Chinese people look alike.” During her testimony, she alleged that she had witnessed fraud as a representative observer for the Michigan GOP during the 2020 election, and said that she had been trained by the Election Integrity Fund (EIF).

More Michigan Election Deniers