Republican leaders from two Michigan counties met in Clare, Michigan this past weekend for the first state central committee meeting following the in–party elections held in February. However, the gathering quickly descended into chaos when Kalamazoo Republican Party Chair Kelly Sackett and Macomb County GOP Secretary Melissa Pehlis nearly got into a physical confrontation.
The tension between the two party leaders stems from the state party chair election, in which Pehlis supported Kristina Karamo and Sackett favored Matthew DePerno. Despite DePerno’s loss, tensions between the two factions have continued to simmer.
The incident occurred at a bar inside the Doherty Hotel, where various GOP leaders had gathered for an evening of casual socializing. Pehlis was having a heated exchange with an unidentified woman when Sackett intervened and tried to de-escalate the situation. However, it wasn’t long before Pehlis and Sackett began to argue. Pehlis accused Sackett of acting illegally when she allegedly purged precinct delegates in her county who supported Karamo.
“You’re all going to jail,” Pehlis said. “You’re all going to go down.”
Sackett lost her patience with Pehlis and allegedly knocked some objects out of her hand. In response, Pehlis thrust a hand in Sackett’s face. The two women were then parted by other unidentified men before someone called the police. Though Sackett filed a complaint with the police, no details were released.
The incident is being seen by some as a “proxy battle” in the continuing war between Karamo and DePerno. After his loss, DePerno accused Karamo of attempting to install a “radical agenda through a ‘Christian only‘ cult mentality.” He claimed that Karamo had done nothing to bring the party together and that her platform was “to burn it down to eliminate the people who don’t agree with her.”
This weekend’s incident is a reminder that party infighting is a distraction that Michigan Republicans can ill afford.