Michigan GOP Rep. Peter Meijer voted to impeach Donald Trump 18 months ago. Democrats are spending nearly half a million dollars to help his Trump-backed challenger defeat him. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has become the latest party entity this election year to aid a Trump-endorsed Republican in a primary against a candidate who has resisted the former president. The investment is more than the $334,000 that John Gibbs has spent on his own campaign. Some Democrats have voiced alarm that their party would elevate the kinds of Republicans they have argued present a threat to democracy and punish the rare GOP official who joined their stand against Trump after the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, three are on the ballot Tuesday, including Meijer. The DCCC ad shows Gibbs next to the 45th president, using imagery and language not far off the billboards the candidate has paid for in the district. In the past, Gibbs has promoted a baseless conspiracy theory about Democrats and in 2016 he suggested in a tweet that Democrats were focused on “Islam, gender-bending, anti-police” In Washington state, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse also face Trump-backed primary challengers who argue that they insulted their constituents with their “aye” votes. In Michigan, Gibbs said he was the more electable Republican choice and that primary voters could see that.
A party operative familiar with the committee’s strategy described it as an easy call. Democrats have elevated other pro-Trump Republicans this year in places where they are confident they can beat them, despite the sour national mood and unpopularity of the Biden administration. Some voters in the district said they still supported Trump but were willing to give Meijer a pass on his impeachment vote. “I’m not going to hold it against him because of his opinion about what he thinks, you know, or doesn’t think,” a retired veteran said at a sparsely attended event at a mixed martial arts gym in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said he is more worried about fixing the economy than he is about the economy. The committee declined to comment.