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Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno speaks during the MIGOP State Nominating Convention at the Lansing Center in Lansing on Aug. 27.Junfu Han / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Why Michigan Republicans’ slate of statewide candidates matters

Michigan Republicans have settled on a slate of election deniers for statewide offices. That matters — even outside of Michigan.


There’s been a fair amount of attention focused lately on Tudor Dixon, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Michigan, and for good reason. The first-time candidate’s far-right views on abortion rights and election denialism are very likely to hurt her candidacy.

But just as notable are some of the other GOP candidates who’ll appear on the same ballot. Axios reported yesterday:

A chaotic Michigan Republican convention set the party’s statewide ticket in stone over the weekend. Candidates include Tudor Dixon for governor, Shane Hernandez for lieutenant governor, Matt DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state.... All of the GOP candidates for Michigan’s Nov. 8 election, one of the most closely watched in the country, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Collectively, Dixon, DePerno, and Karamo have never held elected office — and given their views, that may not change anytime soon.

Karamo, for example, hopes to administer Michigan elections, despite basing much of her candidacy on bizarre conspiracy theories about Donald Trump’s defeat. (The former president, naturally, endorsed Karamo’s candidacy.) The Republican has also raised eyebrows by describing abortion as “satanic,” and insisting two years ago that “demonic possession is real.”

Karamo has also spread Jan. 6 conspiracy theories, rejected vaccines, derided transgender women, and suggested cohabitation before marriage opens the door to normalizing pedophilia.

There were other Republican candidates in the race, including a clerk with experience as an elections administrator, but the state GOP backed Karamo anyway.

But DePerno’s nomination for state attorney general is arguably just as bizarre. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

This month, the Michigan attorney general’s office released documents that suggest Mr. DePerno was a key orchestrator of a separate plot to gain improper access to voting machines in three other Michigan counties. The attorney general, Dana Nessel, the Democrat Mr. DePerno is challenging for the office, requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to pursue the investigation into the scheme and weigh criminal charges. Mr. DePerno denies the allegations and called them politically motivated.

Remember, there was a lengthy investigation by Michigan State Police and the state attorney general’s office into alleged voting machine breaches after the 2020 elections. According to materials presented to the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, there was a group of Republican conspiracy theorists that “orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators” that were illegally seized from county clerks.

Among the alleged culprits is DePerno — the GOP’s Trump-backed choice to run for attorney general.

Asked yesterday whether he funded the push to obtain and analyze voting tabulators in Michigan, DePerno responded, “I can’t answer that question.”

Michigan Republicans had an opportunity to nominate someone who isn’t facing the prospect of a special prosecutor investigation, but the party backed DePerno anyway.

Why should voters outside of the Wolverine State care? Because of a dynamic that mirrors concerns in Arizona: If this GOP slate is elected in this large and competitive battleground state, it’s far from clear whether Michigan will certify election results that Republicans dislike.