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Then-President Donald Trump listened during a meeting with healthcare executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House April 14, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

State Candidates and the 'Trump Ticket'—He Said the Quiet Part Out Loud Again

If his "ticket" wins in November 2022, Trump loyalists will be able to deliver him a victory in 2024, even if he loses the state's popular vote again.

Steven Harper

As he plants the seeds of democracy's destruction, former President Donald Trump is open and notorious about his plan. Most recently, at an April 2 rally in Washington Township, Michigan, he exhorted the crowd to ask each candidate at the state's upcoming Republican convention "if they will support the Trump ticket."

So far, Trump's "ticket" includes a dozen candidates he has endorsed for state elected offices in Michigan alone—where he lost by more than 154,000 votes and then tried to overturn the result.

"If they won't give you that assurance," he continued, "don't give them your vote."

So far, Trump's "ticket" includes a dozen candidates he has endorsed for state elected offices in Michigan alone—where he lost by more than 154,000 votes and then tried to overturn the result. If his "ticket" wins in November 2022, Trump loyalists will be able to deliver him a victory in 2024, even if he loses the state's popular vote again.

Vote Counters

"Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate," Trump said in January and again in March.

The secretary of state is Michigan's "'chief election officer' with supervisory control over local election officials in the performance of their election-related duties." For that job, Trump has endorsed Kristina Karamo—a vocal advocate of Trump's Big Lie and the false conspiracy theories surrounding it:

  • Karamo calls public schools "government indoctrination camps" that expose children to "unbridled wickedness."
  • In November 2020, she said that the Democratic party "has totally been taken over by a satanic agenda."
  • On January 7, 2021, she said that the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol were "antifa posing as Trump supporters."
  • In October 2021, she spoke at the QAnon convention in Las Vegas about "how well coordinated, how nefarious this agenda was to undermine the will of the American people."

Energizing Trump's crowd of more than 5,000 supporters on April 2, Karamo blasted her incumbent Democratic rival as "an authoritarian leftist who treats the people of Michigan like the unwashed masses." She said that "there's an army of people across our state who are fighting back. Little MAGA warriors and we're getting the job done."

Litigators

Michigan's attorney general is responsible for litigating election disputes—an area where Trump failed miserably in 2020. In the 2022 Republican primary, Trump has endorsed Matthew DePerno, a sole practitioner from Portage.

DePerno filed one of the key lawsuits challenging President Joseph Biden's victory in Michigan. His false conspiracy claims about Antrim County's voting machines metastasized throughout the national body politic and became a centerpiece of Trump's Big Lie. In fact, a draft executive order dated December 16, 2020, cited the report of DePerno's supposed expert in the case as a basis for seizing voting machines across the country.

DePerno promotes the Big Lie and has pledged to arrest Michigan's current secretary of state and attorney general. On March 8, 2022, Trump hosted a fundraiser for him at Mar-a-Lago. Kristina Karamo also attended, taking the stage with three Michigan gubernatorial candidates. At a Michigan Republican leadership conference last September, five of the 12 candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor were promoting the Big Lie.

At the April 2 rally in Michigan, DePerno cheered Trump's baseless attacks: "No longer will we allow the elites in this country to control our elections and to control us."

"Donald Trump is still the leader of this party," he proclaimed. "And Donald Trump has come here today and said to every one of you delegates: Support Matt DePerno. Support Kristina Karamo… This right here is the continuation of the MAGA movement."

Legislative Overriders

In 2020, Trump couldn't get the GOP leaders of Michigan's legislature to intervene on his behalf, ignore the popular vote, and appoint Trump's slate of electors to the Electoral College. So now he has endorsed state Rep. Matthew Maddock's bid to become the GOP's new leader of the Michigan House.

"Matt, I am with you all the way. Also, you have a great wife!" Trump wrote with a Sharpie across a news report of Maddock's bid to become House leader.

Matt and his wife, Meshawn—the co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party—are prominent purveyors of the Big Lie. On the night before the January 6 insurrection, both of them spoke at a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C.

Meshawn was one of Michigan's infamous fake electors in Trump's failed criminal plot to overturn the election. Federal prosecutors are investigating her false certification that Trump had won the state. In January 2022, she said that the Trump campaign had asked her to do it.

Along with Kristina Karamo, Meshawn Maddock attended the fundraiser for Matthew DePerno at Mar-a-Lago on March 8, 2022. The Maddocks then sat next to the stage at Trump's April 2 rally in Michigan.

Especially notable among Trump's nine other endorsements for the Michigan state legislature is Mike Detmer, who appeared jointly with gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on January 29, 2022. Detmer told the audience of potential election poll workers to "show up armed" and "be prepared to lock and load." Kelley told them to "unplug" voting machines if they suspected a problem—advice that will land them in prison.

Kelley participated in the January 6 rally and was near the front of the crowd shortly before it clashed with police at the U.S. Capitol.

Democracy on the Ballot

In Michigan and throughout the country, the 2022 elections for key state offices are inflection points for democracy—with national implications for 2024 and beyond. As Trump tries to place his loyalists in critical positions for which allegiance to him is their principal—and often only—qualification, he continues to say the quiet part out loud.

But he makes one thing clear: You can be for Trump or democracy, but not both.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Steven Harper

Steven J. Harper is an attorney, adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, and author of several books, including Crossing Hoffa — A Teamster’s Story and The Lawyer Bubble — A Profession in Crisis. He has been a regular columnist for Moyers on Democracy, Dan Rather’s News & Guts, and The American Lawyer.

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