County Republican officials have dispute that gets physical showing state party discord
FOX 2 (WJBK) - Video of a tense altercation between the Kalamazoo County Republican chairwoman and Macomb County GOP secretary at a bar is making the rounds online.
The clip was obtained and posted by Bridge Michigan, showing Kelly Sackett of Kalamazoo County, and Melissa Pehlis of Macomb County, and follows a heated day at the party’s first state committee meeting of the year in Claire recently.
"Get your cigarette ... " says one woman who then pushes the face of another
"Now we got a problem, now we got a problem," said a man who rushed in, to intervene.
FOX 2 spoke with Sackett via Zoom.
"I felt like I had a target on my back," she said. "She was in my face with a cigarette and I had warned her to get that cigarette out of my face. And she didn’t, and it was extremely close to my face, and I felt like I was going to be burned.
"And quite honestly, the phone was in the hand with the cigarette, so that’s why the phone went flying, it was the cigarette that I hit, because it was right over here by my face."
FOX 2 stopped by the home of Pehlis for her side of the story.
FOX 2: "Do you know if she’d want to talk with us at all?
"No," said someone at the door.
FOX 2 was told she wasn’t there and that there would be no comment.
Former conservative Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno, who’s also Sackett’s lawyer, says the incident dates back to battles for how certain operations are controlled within the Kalamazoo County Republican Party - and what party leaders in other areas of the state think of it.
"Within the Republican Party there’s been a lot of infighting," he said. "That’s created alot of animosity and that has to end. The KGOP I think, is now on the forefront of not only building a coalition with other counties, but also taking the bold steps of saying we have the ability and the authority to control our membership. If you don't follow our bylaws, if you disrespect other delegates, if you disenfranchise other delegates, you’ll be removed from the executive committee."
In the meantime, no word on if the two sides in the altercation will make peace in favor of broader party unity.
"We’re all losing right now," Sackett said. "With all of this infighting, there is no winner. The Democrats are winning right now and the longer that this continues the more we lose."
GOP State Party Chair Kristina Karamo has no comment on the incident.