Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, the only freshman Republican to vote to impeach President Donald Trump last year, won’t be back in Congress next year after losing the 3rd District primary to Trump-backed challenger John Gibbs.
Gibbs, a former Trump administration official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, had 52 percent of the vote to Meijer’s 48 percent when the Associated Press called the race at 3:03 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten, who was unopposed on Tuesday, in November. Scholten lost to Meijer by 6 points in 2020, but this year she is running in a district that became more favorable to Democrats through redistricting.
Meijer, an Iraq War veteran whose family owns the Meijer grocery store chain, cut a moderate record in his first term, voting with Democrats on legislation to address gun violence, codify same-sex marriage and to provide $40.1 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine. Gibbs criticized Meijer for several of those votes, in addition to his impeachment vote.
Several outside groups spent over $3 million to boost Meijer’s bid for a second term, including one that appeared to be funded in part by members of his family.
Still, millions in outside spending wasn’t enough to convince western Michigan Republican voters to back a lawmaker with Trump’s target on his back, which has proved to be the case in other red districts this year.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee entered the fray last week with a television ad buy seemingly attacking Gibbs while tying him to Trump. In a Common Sense op-ed published Monday, Meijer noted that investment was significantly more than the $5,000 Trump’s Save America Super PAC gave Gibbs.
“The Democrats are justifying this political jiu-jitsu by making the argument that politics is a tough business. I don’t disagree,” Meijer wrote. “But that toughness is bound by certain moral limits: Those who participated in the attack on the Capitol, for example, clearly fall outside those limits. But over the course of the midterms, Democrats seem to have forgotten just where those limits lie.”
Some Democrats have criticized the DCCC for targeting Meijer.
“These destructive primary tactics aim to elevate Republican candidates who Democrats hope they can more easily beat in November,” several former Democratic members of Congress said in a joint statement this week. “But it is risky and unethical to promote any candidate whose campaign is based on eroding trust in our elections.”