MUSKEGON, Mich. — The smell of BBQ food filled Kruse Park in Muskegon Saturday afternoon, but none of the food was for “RINOs,” according to signs posted at the local Republican party event.
The term, an abbreviated form of “Republican In Name Only,” has been made popular by former President Donald Trump in recent days, who evokes it to attack members of his own party who are critical of him.
Those literal signs are among other things showing the former president’s continuing influence on local Republicans who, at the Muskegon County GOP BBQ bash Saturday, echoed concerns that the 2020 election was in some way “stolen” from Trump, despite a Republican state-Senate report that found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Michigan.
“My take on the report is that it was inaccurate, and it even states in the report that they haven't looked at all avenues of the election in order to come to an ultimate conclusion,” said Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor and Allendale Township planning commissioner who attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal Rally," but says he never entered the Capitol.
“We would love to have an audit of the election here, but we're going to watch what happens in Georgia; we'll watch what happens in Arizona. And there are a lot of questionable things that happened in the election, not short of the Secretary of State being deemed what she did with absentee ballots illegal,” said Tudor Dixon, a Republican candidate for governor and conservative media personality from Norton Shores. "We do have to prevent those things from happening in the future."
Dixon and Kelley are among several people vying for the GOP nomination and were collecting signatures at Saturday’s event, alongside other candidates Articia Bomer, Pastor Ralph Rebant, and Evan Space.
The Muskegon County Republican Party says they hope to turn the longtime blue county red in 2022, something President Trump fell just short of doing last November.