Challenger Defeats Michigan Incumbent Who Voted to Impeach Trump in Republican Congressional Primary

BYRON CENTER, Mich.—Republican John Gibbs on Aug. 3 defeated Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.

Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Gibbs for the GOP nomination.

With 75 percent of the votes reported at 12:24 a.m. on Aug. 3, Gibbs received 51.9 percent of the vote while Meijer registered 48 percent, according to Decision Desk HQ.

Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in November’s general election in a newly drawn 3rd District that once favored Republicans but is now friendlier to Democrats.

Scholten was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Gibbs was a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official during the Trump administration. He was appointed by Trump to lead the Office of Personnel Management but was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Gibbs grew up in the Lansing area, but he did not live in western Michigan until last year.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford University and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, served as a missionary in Japan, and worked in Silicon Valley as a software engineer before his role with the housing department.

Meijer graduated from Columbia University and is the son of Meijer executive chairman Hank Meijer. He served in the Army Reserves from 2008 to 2016, including a one-year deployment to Iraq.

Meijer voted to impeach Trump after the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021, three days after Meijer was sworn into the 117th Congress as a freshman legislator.

On August 1, in a column that appeared on the Substack page, Common Sense, Meijer blasted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for funding a $435,000 ad buy to bolster Gibbs.

The spot appeared to attack Gibbs, but it also provided airtime for a campaign that did not have the money to increase its name recognition on television in the Grand Rapids market, which critics say was the DCCC’s ultimate objective.

Meijer wrote that it would seem like “the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear. That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they’ve said are an existential threat. Instead, they are funding Gibbs.

Meijer added that the $435,000 ad buy “was more than Gibbs raised over the entire duration of his campaign” and that is was almost 100 times what Trump provided to Gibbs, which amounted to “a single $5,000 contribution from the Save America Super PAC.”

“In other words, the Democrats are not merely attempting to boost a candidate over the finish line: They are subsidizing his entire campaign,” Meijer wrote.

Meijer raised 10 times more money than Gibbs, and he had spent $2.1 million on the campaign compared to Gibbs’ $340,000 as of mid-July.

Meijer was funded by organizations like the Super PAC called Principled Leadership for Michigan, which provided more than $750,000 to his campaign, according to disclosures.

Meijer also received $10,000 each from Majority Committee PAC, which is led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; and the leadership PACs of Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R – Ill.); and $5,000 from the leadership PAC of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming).

On primary election morning outside a voting precinct in Grand Rapids, Meijer talked about the homes he has visited across the district while meeting voters face-to-face and admitted that some residents questioned his vote to impeach Trump.

“Some folks have said they didn’t like that vote, but they don’t want the seat go to a Democrat,” Meijer said. “And they said they have liked many of my other decisions.”

Meijer is “unelectable in November,” Gibbs said before casting his vote on August 2 in Byron Center, Michigan because the freshman legislator voted to impeach Trump and also “voted for the gun control bill.”

“Those are just two reasons why many Republicans would not support him in November,” Gibbs told The Epoch Times.

Gibbs felt confident that his grassroots following would help him defeat Meijer.

“Money does matter—yes,” Gibbs told an audience during a campaign stop at a Baptist church earlier this month.

“You need enough money to get your name out there and pay your staff. But it doesn’t quite mean what it used to. People are getting sick of money being able to buy elections.”

A Democrat has not represented the 3rd district in Congress since 1993, but with a newly drawn redistricting map, analysts like the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate the general election as a toss-up.

Jeff Louderback

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Jeff Louderback is a national reporter for The Epoch Times who is based in Ohio and covers U.S. Senate, U.S. House and gubernatorial races in Ohio and surrounding states.

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