Karamo Defeats Trump-Endorsed Candidate For MRP Chair
Karamo, DePerno and Scott Greenlee were the top three candidates after the first round of voting, and Karamo, the 2022 Secretary of State nominee, was ahead with 31.48% of the vote, earning 688 delegate votes.
She was followed by DePerno, who earned 22.81% and 499 votes. The third place candidate to advance was Greenlee, who got 19.35% with 423 votes.
Karamo kept the lead in round two with 44.96% and 923 votes. DePerno received 32.2% and 661 votes, while Greenlee received 22.84% and 469.
Voting for round three began at around 6:45 p.m., with Convention Chair David Dishaw announcing the Lansing Center had given them a hard cutoff of 8 p.m.
While voting went on, delegates were passed trash bags to help clean up so Lansing Center employees would have an easier time cleaning up. They were also tasked with tearing down signs after they voted.
At 7:30 p.m., still no votes had been displayed onscreen. But by 7:45 p.m., all districts were tallied and Karamo won the seat.
The convention was convened by 7:50 p.m., after a brief victory speech by Karamo.
“We can not wait to get work done,” she said. “We are going to beat the Democrats in 2024.”
Though Karamo had only a minute for her victory speech, she also made remarks during the nomination process ahead of voting.
Karamo was nominated by Joe Moss, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners chairperson, as a large crowd of her supporters rolled in to stand in front of the stage.
Moss called Karamo and her running mate, Melinda Pego, “courageous leaders with spines of steel.”
Karamo, who herself took a moment to speak before voting, said the number one reason why herself and Pego decided to run is their children’s future.
The party now only cares about their own self-serving agenda, she said, and it’s important now to run and make sure “our children inherit their God-given unalienable rights,” a statement that earned loud cheers.
“Our party is dying. Look around the room. We’re dying,” she said.
Karamo was also supported during candidate speeches by another candidate, Mark Forton, who up until today showed no signs of dropping out of the race.
When asked on Thursday, Forton said he felt good about the race, but would support Karamo if he was eliminated in the first round.
But during his candidate speech, Forton said the current system of “ranked choice voting” is set up to keep conservatives out. He urged candidates to get behind and vote for “the candidate who is ahead now.’
“You all know who she is,” he said. “We have to get a true conservative through on the first vote, because the system is mathematically designed to make sure you don’t elect a conservative.”
DePerno, the second-place candidate, was nominated by state Rep. Angela Rigas (R-Alto), who spoke about her experience as a freshman joining the House Freedom Caucus and acting as one of only eight members to vote against now-House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).
During her speech and while DePerno was being seconded, a crowd of supporters with pro-DePerno signage and a very loud air horn paraded back and forth in front of the stage.
DePerno did not speak, instead playing a candidate video featuring himself and his co-chair candidate, Garrett SOLDANO. The video included a clip of former President Donald TRUMP’s formal endorsement of DePerno.
Immediately following DePerno’s exit from the stage, Lena Epstein, who announced on Wednesday night that she was deferring to support DePerno, was nominated herself.
She took the stage to speak, focusing on her experience as a statewide candidate running for a University of Michigan regent position and not receiving party support.
“Without a strong party to fight back and support fine conservative candidates, we will never gain back what we have lost," she said, and ended by declaring her support for DePerno and Soldano.
Despite a Ryan Kelley endorsement and the promise of a contract with delegates, Greenlee didn’t make it to round three.
He was nominated by Paul Stephens, the current GOP youth vice chair, who expressed his vote of confidence in Greenlee’s ability to bring “young voices to the table.”
“Join me in fighting for our students. Join me in fighting for our future. Join me in supporting Scott Greenlee,” Stephens said.
Greenlee himself did not speak, instead playing a video that talked about his background in politics and inspiration from former President Ronald Reagan and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Greenlee said he was inspired by Gingrich’s Contract with America, so much so that he decided to develop his own contract with the delegates.
He said he loves Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, “but as chairman, I don’t work for them. I work for you, the delegates."
The contract, which included allowing state committeemen to choose his vice chair and forming a delegate advisory council, earned him former gubernatorial candidate Kelley’s endorsement, which Greenlee included in his video.
Ted Nugent also made an appearance to endorse Greenlee, who focused his video on the need for unity, even including a round of applause for the other party chair candidates.
Noteworthy speeches from other candidates included Scott Aughney, who used his time to express his disappointment, not only with how the party has changed, but also with delegates.
“This party has a thinking problem, from the top on down,” he said, adding that the GOP refuses to get into urban areas at the expense of votes.
Aughney said he hates the convention process, calling it soulless.
When he received boo’s from some delegates, he said, “You are thin-skinned.”
Aughney was pulled into a conversation with Convention chair David Dishaw mid-speech, where he was asked to refrain from personal attacks. After a hushed conversation that lasted several seconds, he walked off stage.
Augney, along with Kent Boersma, Drew Born and Mike Farage all earned under 1% of the vote in the first round of voting. Mark Forton and Lena Epstein, who pulled out to support other candidates, earned 0.80% and 0.05% of the vote, respectively.
Billy Putman earned 12.31% of the vote during round one, while JD Glaser received 11.74%, but neither got a big enough piece of the pie to advance.
The chair race was the only to require a second round of voting.
For coalition vice chair, Hassan Nehme, a 2022 Republican primary candidate for Michigan’s 12th Congressional district, won unopposed.
Nehme was nominated by DePerno, and kept his thank you very brief.
The outreach vice chair position was won by Rola Makki, who defeated opponents Curtis Clark and Zach Smith to win the seat. Makki is believed to be the first Muslim state party official.
The grassroots vice chair position was won by Marian Sheridan, who received 73.58% of the vote with 1,609 votes over opponent Chuck Murphy, who earned 25.35% and 554 votes. The other 23 delegates, or 1.07%, abstained.
For ethnic vice chair, Bernadette Smith was re-elected with no opposition, while Ali HASSAN won administrative vice chair as the lone candidate.
Finally, the youth vice chair position was won by Rylee Linting, who was nominated by the state’s youngest 2022 state senate candidate, Houston James.
Linting was a Grand Valley State University student who became involved in politics after she was “subjected to vaccine mandates.”
She earned 67.77% of the vote with 1,482 votes over Parker Shonts, who was nominated by Sen. Jonathan Lindsey (R-Brooklyn) and earned 32.05%.
Michigan Top Court To Hear Challenge of Ballot Initiative Laws
Matthew S. Erard represents four Michigan voters who signed a petition for a proposed ballot initiative to ban fracking in the state, but whose signatures were later not counted as valid by state election officials because they were older than 180 days.
"This particular case is the culmination of many prior efforts to get a ruling on this statute’s constitutionality," Erard told Law360 on Thursday.
The Michigan Court of Claims previously dismissed the voters’ case, finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because of a statute saying challenges of determinations by the Board of State Canvassers must go to the Supreme Court, and held that statute is not constitutionally deficient.
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in July 2022 and declined to address the voters’ constitutional challenges.
The four voters raised several arguments in a motion for appeal filed last September with the Michigan Supreme Court, which issued an order calling for briefs and oral arguments on the matter on Wednesday.
The voters argue that statute MCL 168.479 does not bar lower courts from ruling on their challenge of the constitutional validity of the 180-day statute, MCL 168.472a, and that if it does, it is unconstitutional. They also argue the former statute should not even apply to their case because their challenge focuses on the constitutionality of the 180-day law barring state officials from counting their petition signatures as valid.
"Plaintiffs do not bring this action as persons aggrieved by a board of state canvassers’ determination regarding the sufficiency or insufficiency of an initiative petition," the voters said in their motion for appeal, "but rather as petition signers possessing a legally protected interest in having their signatures validated, invalidated, empowered or disregarded according to established law."
The Michigan Supreme Court order calls for briefs addressing several questions, including whether lower courts correctly ruled the 168.479 statute bars the Michigan Court of Claims from having jurisdiction over decisions by the Board of State Canvassers; whether the court erred by framing the voters’ complaint as a challenge subject to 168.479; and whether 168.479 is in conflict with separation of powers, exclusive court powers and due process protections.
In an amicus brief filed in October on behalf of more than a dozen groups, including the League of Women Voters of Michigan, attorney Mark Brewer urged the Michigan Supreme Court to take up the appeal.
Brewer and the groups argued that the 180-day law clearly violates several provisions of the state constitution, and that 168.479(2), when enacted, created a "confusing procedural labyrinth" of contradictory appellate procedures the Michigan Supreme Court should now straighten out.
In the brief, Brewer said signatures for ballot initiatives were valid for the length of the gubernatorial term in which they were collected prior to 1973, when the limit was drastically shortened by the state Legislature to stop a petition drive that sought to block pay raises for state legislators but never made it onto the ballot.
The 180-day limit was declared to be unconstitutional by former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley in 1974, according to Brewer, but it was later resurrected in 1986 for ballot initiatives that would amend the state’s constitution, and then also applied to statutory ballot initiatives.
"The 180-day limit has never served any important, let alone compelling, government interest," Brewer and the groups said in the amicus brief. "All it has done is achieve the Legislature’s unconstitutional goal of stopping petition drives."
The Michigan Department of Attorney General did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State said it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Future is Now: Why Generative AI Could Use Legislative Action
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is used every day without a thought, but a new advancement in AI technology is set to change aspects of work and play across the world, according to experts.
“Generative AI is the equivalent of the Wright Brothers taking their first flight at Kitty Hawk,” said Chad Edwards, co-director of the communication and social robotics labs at Western Michigan University. “These are those first initial baby steps where things are tenuous, and things are problematic. You have to be mindful, but it’s that big of a game changer.”
There is no aspect of legislation, business or education that would not be impacted by these new programs, such as ChatGPT, OpenAI, the new Bing-linked GPT-3 AI, and Google Bard. They are based on pre-trained information on the internet.
The Oxford Dictionary defines AI as: The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and language translations.
“A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human,” Alan Turing wrote in 1950, creating the first test to determine if artificial intelligence was indeed intelligent.
But today’s generative AI programs surpass the Turing test and are approaching the ability to blur the line between human and machine.
Edwards said he used to tell his students it was likely that they would work with an AI team member sometime in their lifetime, but after ChatGPT, he now tells them that is probable when they graduate.
Businesses are already moving quickly to implement generative AI, and the impact of these programs could be bigger than social media as the move of people to sign up for the program has been exponential.
“The penetration numbers for ChatGPT is something like five days for 1 million people. It took Instagram like four months, Netflix a year,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the practical applications for the programs will only be determined after the “play phase” – when people play games and post random pictures as happened on social media nearly 20 years ago.
“Give it a little bit of time and sort of that play is going to turn more serious, and the people are going to figure out ways to use it in ways that we can’t even imagine,” he said.
Edwards sees a time when users will not search for something on the internet, but instead ask the internet questions that the generative AI program, such as Bard or Bing, will answer.
Such intelligence could arguably lead to misuse as suggested by a Monmouth poll, which found 65% of Americans believe students would use AI programs to cheat on schoolwork.
Many larger school districts have tried to implement a ban on such programs, but Edwards warns against a total AI ban, noting that the calculator, computer and slide rules once were thought to be tools students could use to cheat.
“Generative AI is going to keep developing but we need to teach our students the best ways to use it and not be so afraid of that technology, but at the same time, be mindful that there are issues,” he said.
However, Maura Grossman, research professor in the school of computer science at the University of Waterloo, said there isn’t much of a worry right now about students using OpenAI for cheating because the accuracy of the program is frequently in question.
“The tools don’t know the difference between fact and fiction. They’re trained on the internet and the internet contains vast amounts of misinformation,” she said.
Another large blind spot for generative AI is bias, Grossman said. She said that is the reason they shouldn’t be used for areas that could impact marginalized populations, like an experiment done in New Jersey.
Daniel Tsai, lecturer in law, business, and technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University, said AI was implemented to grant bail in New Jersey and many advocates thought it would be the be-all and end-all to do away with bias because it would be a machine with infallible logic. Edwards called it automation bias.
The experiment quickly went the other direction.
“In fact, in some ways they thought it was more discriminatory and worse than having a human judge make decisions on bail,” Tsai said.
The area that is most concerning for all three professors is what criminals could do with AI technology.
Fraudsters frequently use technology to swipe unsuspecting people’s information to steal their identity and their money, and it could be used for misinformation or blatant lies, which could appear to come from a person who never said the lie. AI could use Deepfake video programs to accomplish this, which was a concern of all the experts.
There are also worries about transparency and privacy.
These are areas that Grossman and Tsai agreed would need to be dealt with by legislation.
Grossman said California, Illinois and New York have addressed AI privacy protection via legislation. However, their efforts are limited. She suggested states interested in creating similar legislation should look toward the European Union’s model.
Grossman and Tsai said many issues also could find their way into a courtroom. Grossman suggested there could be ethical and legal issues about who is responsible for mishaps. For example, if an AI tells someone the cure for a sick child is to grind up glass and put it in the formula, and someone followed the instructions, who would be culpable for the resulting harm?
Another issue is employment-related if people are displaced because of AI automation.
“For all the good that AI can do, you guys need to be ahead of the curve and get on the regulatory aspect of it. Don’t let this become another subprime crisis-type thing where it gets out of hand and it’s too late to put controls on it,” Tsai said.
Tsai said trust in AI is largely dependent on generation. His 18 to 24-year-old students trust it, but the older generation is “a little more cynical and skeptical.”
A recent Monmouth poll found that only one in 10 Americans believe computer scientists’ ability to develop AI would do more good than harm, and nearly 55% of the people polled think that AI would pose a risk to human existence.
Edwards said this is based heavily upon the Hollywood version of what people think of as AI, such as the 1999 American science fiction comedy-drama Bicentennial Man, played by the late actor Robin Williams, or the Terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenneger.
However, only one in four Americans polled said they don’t use voice-recognition AI, like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.
Edwards said the combination of generative AI with voice assistants is something that could happen in the future.
He said another step in the AI evolution would be the jump from the computer into a robot, which would see the game change dramatically again.
“We have to be careful when we design things in our own image sometimes, and sometimes that’s not the best decision, because we can really freak people out,” Edwards said.
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