Violent brawl breaks out at Michigan GOP committee meeting

Tensions stemming from budget questions boiled over committee meeting

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 10 July 2023 05:46 EDT

Trump takes aim at voting process in Michigan campaign speech

While the scuffles may be verbal as leading Republicans jostle to become the party’s 2024 presidential nominee, down at the state level things have actually turned physical — at least in Michigan, and not for the first time.

Tensions boiled over within the Michigan Republican Party on Saturday resulting in an altercation at a hotel to which the police were called.

The GOP’s state committee came together for a meeting at the Doherty Hotel in Clare as members have been feuding over the party’s direction and the leadership approach of the new chairwoman, Kristina Karamo, The Detroit News reports.

Some Michigan Republicans arriving at the venue on Saturday were frustrated to find the meeting was limited only to members of the state committee and was taking place behind a locked door.

In an interview with The Detroit News, James Chapman, a Republican from Wayne County, said he had travelled to Clare for the meeting but was forced to listen to it through a locked door.

Mr Chapman said he and others said the Pledge of Allegiance together in the lobby outside the meeting, after which he jiggled the doorknob of the meeting room.

It was then that Mark DeYoung, chairman of the Clare County Republican Party, approached the door, saw someone flip him off through a small window, and opened it.

“He kicked me in my balls as soon as I opened the door,” Mr DeYoung said, adding that Mr Chapman ran at him and slammed him into a chair.

Mr DeYoung gave his account to the outlet over the phone from an emergency room where he said he was being treated for a broken rib.

For his part, Mr Chapman alleges that Mr DeYoung had swung at him and said: “I’ll kick your ass.” Mr DeYoung denies this happened.

Continuing, Mr Chapman says he removed his glasses, took Mr DeYoung by the legs and knocked him down: “When you see me taking my glasses off, I’m ready to rock.”

Multiple police officers were at the scene after the scuffle and Mr DeYoung said he intended to press charges against Mr Chapman.

“We’re so divided,” Mr DeYoung said from the hospital. “I just wish we could come together.”

This is also not the first time internal tensions have erupted. The Washington Post reported in June: “At least four county parties in Michigan have been at open war with themselves, with members suing one another or putting forward competing slates that claim to be in charge. The night before an April state party meeting, two GOP officials got into a physical altercation in a hotel bar over an attempt to expel members.”

Other tension stems from criticism of Ms Karamo, who became the chairwoman in February, for not providing more information about fundraising and spending. The Post also reported that she has struggled to raise money and abandoned the party’s longtime headquarters.

Ms Karamo had recently removed Matt Johnson, the budget committee chairman, citing “dereliction of duty and several other grievances”.

Mr Johnson had said spending was “so far out of proportion with income as to put us on the path to bankruptcy”.

The Michigan Republican Party was trounced in the 2022 midterms — Ms Karamo lost a run for secretary of state in November by 14 percentage points to her Democrat rival — and has found itself out of power in the state legislature for the first time in four decades.

The Democratic Party also controls the state Senate and Governor Gretchen Whitmer comfortably won reelection by 11 points in November 2022.

Continuing internal struggles will likely make it even harder for a Republican candidate to take the state in 2024’s presidential election.

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