The official campaign arm of House Democrats is entering a West Michigan Republican primary to elevate a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump against one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him.
The $425,000 ad campaign is the latest in a series of Democratic efforts to draw attention to far-right candidates, hoping they will be easier to beat in November than more traditional Republicans. But in this case, it could also be seen as a slap in the face to Rep. Peter Meijer, the incumbent in the Grand Rapids-area district who faced criticism from his own party for his vote to impeach Trump and is now fighting the ruse of the right and left. the left.
The ad, which will begin airing Tuesday and was openly cut and funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, proclaims that John Gibbs, who is challenging Meijer, is “too conservative” for West Michigan. But in tone and content, it is clearly intended to appeal to pro-Trump voters in the Republican primary on August 2, praising Gibbs as “Trump’s hand-picked choice to run for Congress,” enhancing his bona fides as an aide in Trump. administration and promising that he would push “that same conservative agenda in Congress,” including a hard line on illegal immigration and a stance in favor of “patriotic education.”
Sign up for The Morning Newsletter from the New York Times
It’s similar to an announcement made by the House Democratic super PAC that tried unsuccessfully to push a pro-Trump candidate against Rep. David Valadao in California, another of 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment. That announcement angered even some Democrats.
By law, elected Democrats must keep their distance from the super PAC, known as the House Majority PAC, which was responsible for Valadao’s race announcement. But with Gibbs’ announcement, the campaign committee responsible for it is led by a member of the Democratic leadership, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, and the group is much more integrated into official action.
The Democratic campaign committee declined to comment on the ad. But the intention was clear. Meijer’s redrawn district has gone from one that narrowly voted for Trump in 2020 to one that President Joe Biden would have won by 9 percentage points.
The tone of the current ad is bright, but if Gibbs were to win the primary, the Democrats’ next effort is likely to be considerably darker. Gibbs, who was an aide to former Housing Secretary Ben Carson, was unable to get confirmed in 2020 to head Trump’s Office of Personnel Management over comments he made accusing Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta of participating in a “satanic ritual”. and calling the Democrats the party of “’Islam, gender-bending, anti-police, ‘you’re a racist!’”
More recently, Gibbs and Meijer clashed over the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory, which Gibbs groundlessly called “simply mathematically impossible.”
In Pennsylvania, the state Democratic Party singled out state Sen. Doug Mastriano during his successful pursuit of the Republican nomination for governor, despite his spreading false claims about the 2020 election and his presence in Washington during the Jan. 6 attack. of 2021 against The Capitol. Polls last month showed that Mastriano’s race against Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee, appeared to be a tie.
Democrats believe Michigan’s 3rd district, with its new boundaries, is one of the few in the country they can take from a Republican, and they are willing to take a chance by choosing a Trump-backed election denier with a history of making inflammatory comments to do it. easier for his favorite candidate, Hillary Scholten.
After Meijer’s impeachment vote, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House Majority Leader, praised Meijer for what he called “an impressive display of courage and integrity.”
“I guess that doesn’t count for much when there’s a marginally better chance of winning a House seat on the table,” Meijer joked in a text message Monday.
© 2022 The New York Times Company