Michigan’s Republican primary and caucuses: how they work this year

The lights come up on the capital building in Lansing.

Photo: Alamy

Republicans and Democrats are poised to have their upcoming primaries in Michigan on Tuesday, although this cycle will operate differently, and more confusingly, than its past elections—particularly for Republicans.

Michigan’s Republican Party will hold a split contest in the battle for the Great Lake State’s 55 delegates, holding both a primary and a caucus election.

Sixteen of the delegates will be up for grabs in the primary on Tuesday, Feb. 27, while the remaining 39 delegates will be won in a caucus of Michigan’s 13 congressional districts on Saturday, March 2.

However, confusion could plague the state the day of its caucus, as two different factions of Michigan’s Republican Party are planning dueling caucus conventions.

Michigan’s GOP Chairman Pete Hoekstra, a former congressman and President Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands, will lead the state’s official Republican caucus in Grand Rapids on March 2.

Hoekstra, whose bid to lead Michigan’s GOP was endorsed by President Trump, took helm of the state’s party in January following the ousting of former Chairwoman Kristina Karamo.

The RNC officially recognized the ascension of Hoesksra as chairman, however, Karamo alleged that the measure is only a corrupt effort to “usurp” her former position.

Karamo has maintained that she is still “legally the chair,” a sentiment that has caused a rift in the state’s party. Karamo’s faction will hold a separate caucus in Detroit on March 2, although their delegates will not be recognized by the RNC.

Shortly after taking to his new position, Hoekstra called on his predecessor to recognize the new leadership, particularly since both the RNC and President Trump “have now come forward and recognized” his position.

“It’s time for the former Chair to join the fight to re-elect Donald Trump,” Hoekstra previously posted to X. “She would be welcomed.”

This dramatic new process comes as a result of Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing legislation last year to move the state’s primary date in accordance to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) state reorganization plan.

Republican National Committee (RNC) law says that the state cannot hold a primary before March 1, and doing otherwise would see the Michigan lose up to 90 percent of delegates at future national conventions.

In response to this measure, Michigan’s Republican Party passed a resolution to split the traditional primary contest into two different election days, having one be run as a primary, and the other a caucus.

President Trump is widely expected to win Michigan’s Republican primary in a landslide on Tuesday, with polling showing him with a near 62-point lead over his primary opponent, former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.

According to polling from FiveThirtyEight, Trump leads the former governor with 79.9 percent to Haley’s 18 percent as of Sunday evening, a decisive victory in a key general election swing-state.

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