News7 In Depth


Wide divide: Split in the Republican party sets tone for upcoming elections

Posted at 2:56 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 17:40:06-04

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — This is a critical election year. Michigan residents will be deciding who is governor, attorney general and secretary of state for the next four years.

Even if you’re passive about politics, what’s happening now is driving this election year and your choices.

The stage is set by Former President Donald Trump, who is endorsing Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state.

That started the wide divide.

"I have not promised President Trump anything," said DePerno.

Karamo said, "President Trump endorsed me; it was not because I was looking or promising to do something immoral, illegal or improper. Nothing like that occurred."

Republican campaign strategist Jamie Roe said we need to have the best team on the field, but added, “I think that we could have had a better team."

The wide divide played out big time at the Republican delegates convention with voting for the Trump-backed candidates.

"I've been active in the party for over 25 years," said Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry.

Berry was Trump’s 2016 co-chair in Macomb County. She was a candidate in Michigan for secretary of state.

7 Action News asked Berry why she thinks she was pushed away from the position.

“That's a great question. I'd love to know that. I don't see how anyone could have been more Trump than me,” Berry said.

It's because she's not all-in that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

His two hand-picked candidates are calling for a full investigation even though last year, the Republican-led state Senate Oversight Committee did a thorough review statewide and found no widespread fraud. The committee chair was Senator Ed McBroom.

He's a Republican, he comes out with that and he gets called a RINO? Right? Kiertzner asked. "And I was called the RINO as well simply because I wouldn't get on board with the narrative. And it wasn't that I was opposed to looking at it. I'm certainly not opposed to doing any investigation,” Berry said.

"In a nutshell, his investigation was total garbage," said DePerno.

Karamo said, "I feel there's been no meaningful investigation into the 2020 election. And again, there is evidence of election fraud that was ignored, mocked, and demonized. And that's my position."

RINO means Republican In Name Only, a favorite term of Trump and his supporters.

“I’ve been working to elect conservative Republicans for over 30 years,” Roe said. “I'm not going to be called a RINO by anybody, particularly people who I’d never heard of before a couple of years ago.”

DePerno said, "I think all of these incumbents need to put on their big boy pants and come to the table and support the endorsed candidate. Acting like children only means we are going to lose in November. Maybe that’s their goal."

Trump has a firm grip on northern Macomb County.

The convention in Grand Rapids was led by Trump loyalist and Republican co-chair Meshawn Maddock.

We asked her for an interview for this report. She said it probably wasn’t a good idea.

Trump has a firm grip on northern Macomb County. How will this all play out in the months ahead? We talked with voters at the Jams Restaurant & Bar and found mixed support for Trump and the Stop the Steal movement.

“Obviously, him being the last Republican president does have some leeway, but I wouldn't say it's super important,” Zack Kaiser, who leans Republican, said.

Carol Russell, who supports Trump, said, “I think he has the right to do it.”

Russell says that would not determine how she votes.

“It’s nonsense — sheer, unadulterated garbage,” Syma Echeandia, who does not support Trump, said.

Party loyalists say Republicans need to be focused on the issues of taxes, roads and inflation.

“Re-litigating the 2020 election doesn’t help us stop any of the bad things that are going on right now. And in fact, it’s a distraction from the real problems that we’re facing in this state and in the country,” Roe said.

We reached out to the Democratic party chair to comment but did not hear back.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is running unopposed.

“I know there’s been a lot of chaos. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it,” Whitmer said.

The Republican candidate for governor won’t be decided by voters until August.