Michigan GOP moves forward with election-denying candidates The party voted resoundingly to support former President Trump's false claims about the 2020 election in their picks for state's next top elections officer and top law enforcement official.

Michigan GOP moves forward with 2020 election-denying secretary of state and AG

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This weekend, Republicans in Michigan voted to endorse Kristina Karamo, a candidate who claims the 2020 election was stolen, as their nominee for the statewide position that controls voting in the critical swing state. NPR's Miles Parks was there in Grand Rapids for the vote, and he has this report.

MILES PARKS, BYLINE: As Michigan GOP chair Meshawn Maddock began reading the results of this weekend's vote, the crowd here at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids erupted.

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MESHAWN MADDOCK: I want to congratulate our endorsed candidate for secretary of state, Kristina Karamo.

PARKS: Kristina Karamo is a community college professor who's made her name in politics by denying the 2020 election results. This weekend, she moved one step closer to overseeing Michigan's elections when she won the Michigan Republican Party's endorsement to become their nominee for secretary of state. Instead of primaries, in Michigan, political parties pick their nominees for a number of down-ballot races at party conventions like this one.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Thank you.

PARKS: That's the sound of Republican delegates inserting their ballots into voting machines they don't trust, voting in an election that was focused on a perceived lack of integrity in elections.

VALERIE ALLEMON-RAIMI: Well, election fraud is on the top of my list because we all know what happened. We all do. And if you don't think it happened, you're living under a rock.

PARKS: That's Valerie Allemon-Raimi. She's a delegate from Macomb County, Mich., who just voted for Karamo, and she's wearing what looks like a giant Donald Trump flag that's been turned into a dress.

ALLEMON-RAIMI: I've had this for almost a year now, but I bought two of them. I actually bought three and gave one to my friend.

PARKS: She says she's gotten a few eye rolls from more establishment Republicans here at this convention, but it was clear from the voting results this weekend that the anti-Trumpers here were outnumbered. Trump endorsed Karamo and an election-denying candidate for attorney general, and they both beat out more mainstream Republican candidates. But some Republicans worry the party is picking ideologue candidates at the expense of electability. Karamo, for instance, has also said evolution shouldn't be taught in schools, and she spoke at a QAnon conference last year. Here she is at a recent rally with Trump.

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KRISTINA KARAMO: President Trump, thank you for what you did for our country. You pulled the scale off of so many people eyes of how there's a cabal of people in leaderships bent on destroying our country.

(APPLAUSE)

KARAMO: Thank you.

PARKS: While Karamo clearly energizes the Trump base, fellow Republican, Michigan state Representative Beau LaFave, says...

BEAU LAFAVE: There's no way that Kristina Karamo will win in November.

PARKS: LaFave also ran for secretary of state, and his main argument was that Karamo has too much baggage to win a general election against incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson, who already has a large fundraising lead.

LAFAVE: It's going to be every single ad the Democrats play. Starting on Monday morning, it's going to be QAnon Karamo. And I don't think that's going to work.

PARKS: Benson, the Democratic incumbent, says she hopes when people look at her race against Karamo, they understand the risk of putting someone in charge of voting who denies the results of a fair election.

JOCELYN BENSON: It's like putting arsonists in charge of a fire department. This is a choice between whether or not we'll have a democracy moving forward.

PARKS: An NPR/Marist College poll from November found that more than 60% of Republican voters don't trust that elections in the U.S. are fair, making election denialism almost a prerequisite for statewide Republican candidates. How that strategy plays, however, in an election where Trump isn't even on the ballot remains one of the biggest open questions of this year's midterms. Miles Parks, NPR News, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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