QAnon-connected candidate Kristina Karamo was endorsed last month as the party’s choice to take on Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in November, with the winner administering the state’s elections. That could have big implications for the 2024 presidential race where Michigan is again poised to be a pivotal swing state.
That’s no coincidence as Karamo, who was strongly endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was catapulted to prominence by the former president because of her willingness to help spread the lie that the 2020 election was “rigged.”
“She is strong on Crime, including the massive Crime of Election Fraud,” Trump said in his endorsement on the Save America website. “Kristina will fight for you like no other, and of equal importance, she will fight for justice. Good luck Kristina, and while you’re at it, check out the Fake Election results that took place in the city of Detroit.”
Karamo came to Trump’s attention after she alleged illegal vote counting at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit where she showed up as a self-appointed “poll challenger” while officials counted approximately 174,000 absentee ballots. However, as the Guardian reported, her allegation was based on a misunderstanding of the counting process, which was not a surprise to Chris Thomas, Michigan’s former state director of elections.
Thomas, who oversaw the state’s elections for 36 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, said her lack of training made the misunderstanding almost inevitable.
“This is the problem when people make all these comments when they don’t understand the system,” he told the Guardian. “They see what they want to see.”
Speaking to that issue, Benson campaign spokesperson Liz Boyd told the Michigan Advance that Karamo does not represent what residents want and expect from the office.
“If the GOP wants a secretary of state who peddles in conspiracy theories and doesn’t have the first idea how to provide competent, customer-service driven leadership then they’ve got their candidate,” said Boyd. “Not only will Kristina Karamo undermine our democracy and overturn our elections, she’ll take us back to the days when customers had to ‘take-a-ticket and wait’ hours just to renew a driver license.”
However, a deeper dive into Karamo’s past statements show deeply held beliefs that go beyond electoral politics.
According to a Media Matters’ roundup of those episodes, Karamo’s claims included allegations that singers Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish have been putting children “under a satanic delusion,” while attacking Beyoncé for “trying to target Black people into embracing paganism … and calling it African spirituality.”
“I had a student who once said, ‘Well, you know, I believe there’s a bunch of gods,’” Karamo said on the Aug. 6, 2020, episode. “And that’s what people are gravitating to because, again, witchcraft gives them a sense and paganism gives them a sense of power without conformity to something. It’s just follow self. And we see Beyoncé pushing that more and more. And she’s really targeting, trying to target Black people into embracing paganism. And one of the really interesting things is that her husband, Jay-Z, is, many people have said, is a satanist. I believe it to be true. I don’t have any hard proof.”
Many religions are polytheistic, like Taoism and most forms of Hinduism, with adherents believing in many gods. Christianity and Judaism are prominent monotheistic religions.
Satan’s influence is never far from Karamo’s concerns, connecting it to a Korean drama’s plot line about communicating with ancestors, which she criticizes as mocking God.
“It’s because of Satan,” Karamo said on the program, according to the Media Matters roundup. “And so people are turning to these things to find happiness and “I’m going to communicate with my ancestors.” Bull, no. There’s no ancestors for you to talk to. And Satan, again, he’s so crafty.”
She has also claimed that people doing yoga are participating in “a satanic ritual.”
“‘It’s OK, it’s normal to have premarital sex, it’s normal to live with your boyfriend for a few years to see if it’s going to work out, right?’” asked Karamo in a since-deleted video on her website. “No. Because again, when you kick God out, nature hates vacuums, Satan fills right in. And that is what has happened in our society And then when we start to say, ‘Oh well, if you want to have sex with somebody of the same sex, that’s OK, too.’ And now, it has morphed into something worse,” which she claimed was pedophilia and bestiality, “being normalized.”
That line of reasoning has gained ground within the Michigan GOP as seen last month when state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) used a fundraising email to accuse Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) of being a “groomer” who sought to “sexualize children,” while Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) sent out a fundraising text claiming ‘your child’ is scheduled for gender reassignment surgery and calling transgender a “sick and twisted ideology.”
Karamo, whose campaign did not return a request for comment, also opposes teaching evolution, calling public schools “government indoctrination camps,” while maintaining that those involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection were not who they appeared to be. Speaking on her podcast the day after the attack, Karamo advanced the false claim that those who stormed the U.S. Capitol were not Trump supporters.
“Based on the series of evidence and knowing how these situations work, how these anarchists operate, I believe this is completely Antifa posing as Trump supporters,” Karamo said. “I mean, anybody can buy a MAGA hat and put on a t-shirt and buy a Trump flag.”
Over 800 people have been arrested and charged with crimes connected to the attack, many of them admitted Trump supporters.
Now that she is the Republican candidate in November, Karamo has to appeal to a statewide electorate that includes more than just diehard Trump supporters. Karamo herself appeared to understand that when speaking in October 2021 in Las Vegas at an event featuring prominent people associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“One of the things that I try to be very cognizant of, you know, I’m running a statewide race,” Karamo said according to a CNN report. “And I understand I have to win the hearts and minds of people who may not necessarily think like me.”
At the Michigan GOP endorsement convention last month, Karamo also vowed to win over “soft Democrats” and independents.
However, the woman Karamo seeks to replace made no qualms about how she sees the stakes of electing someone who believes, against all evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen.
“It’s like putting arsonists in charge of a fire department. It’s like putting a bank robber in charge of a bank and giving them the keys to the vault,” said Benson. “This is a choice between whether or not we’ll have a democracy moving forward.”
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