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Michigan GOP makes decision with Hillsdale County delegates after infighting leads to separate candidate lists

Posted at 10:59 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 11:13:31-04

HILLSDALE, Mich. — There is infighting happening in the Hillsdale County Republican Party. After denying entry to at least 60 delegates at their August convention, the party submitted two delegate lists to the state to see who they would choose to seat at the state convention, and now, the state GOP has chimed in.

In a statement released by the Michigan GOP, they said the Hillsdale County party leadership broke August 2022 rules by barring duly-elected precinct delegates from attending the Hillsdale County convention on Aug. 11.

One of those disavowed delegates was County Commissioner Brent Leininger. He told FOX 47 News that in an e-mail that delegates were notified if they were to appear at Sozo Church for the convention, they would all be charged with criminal trespassing.

“I purely believe they’re trying to dictate and control the future of the Hillsdale County Republican Executive Committee and the Hillsdale County Republican Party without input and activity from those that they disagree on certain issues with,” Leininger said.

But, according to Executive Committee Secretary Jon Smith, they were doing this to protect the party. He says the committee believes the county clerk’s office denied precinct delegate applications for the August primary in an effort to keep others out.

We reached out to Hillsdale County Clerk Marney Kast for a response to those allegations.

“When we had the opportunity to review the filed documents, many were improperly filed and had to be pulled before the ballot programming,” Kast said. “When someone desires to run for any office, they should do the research as to what forms should be filed and when the filing deadline is. They should also realize that every blank line or circle on the form will need to be completed. We do what we can to assist but many of the candidates’ forms were incomplete and letters were sent out notifying them. A number of these were found and notified after the filing deadline as we did not catch their mistakes immediately when they filed.”

Smith says they’re doing this to protect their party values.

“By doing disavowments, those people that you see on that list that we disavowed, the majority of that list not one of them partake in the Republican Party,” he said. “Not one of them are involved, not one of them held a parade, not one of them even attended a meeting. They don’t partake in the Republican Party. All this was is about trying to get out the leadership of the Republican Party right now.”

The purpose of the convention was to make a list of 13 delegate names to attend the Michigan Republican Party nominating convention Saturday.

The 61 disavowed precinct delegates met outside the convention in a parking lot across the street and conducted the same matters of business that were happening inside Sozo Church, elected Leininger as a permanent chair, elected a permanent secretary and followed the proper procedures for conducting a convention, according to MIGOP. They say the minutes were submitted to the Michigan GOP along with a list of 13 delegates and 13 alternates.

But, the Hillsdale Republican Party, chaired by Daren Wiseley, also submitted a list of delegates and alternates. According to the Michigan Republican Party, this list was in violation of the 10 percent hard-working Republican rule, which is an effort to recognize those Republicans who may not be precinct delegates. Of the 13 delegates submitted, just five were precinct delegates and, of 13 alternates, just four were precinct delegates.

Hillsdale Republican County officials acknowledged that preventing the elected delegates from being seated would invalidate the convention.

“My goal is that the Executive Committee continue to work with all Republicans in the county, to reach out to all aspects of conservatism, to push forward for government that is more responsive to the people, that is closer to the people and that’s the adequate size to appropriately serve the citizens of the county,” Leininger said.

The state party credentials committee is seating the delegates and alternates submitted by Leininger to the Michigan Republican nominating convention on Aug. 27.

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