Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, was already facing a brutal primary next Tuesday — and now Democrats are trying to twist the knife.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed a TV ad buy in the Grand Rapids market on Monday morning to meddle in the final days of Meijer’s primary. His Western Michigan district is one of the party’s top offensive targets this election, and Democratic strategists believe if they can boost Meijer’s pro-Trump challenger to victory next week, they will have an easier time this fall trying to flip a seat President Joe Biden carried by nine points in 2020.
Meijer is locked in a battle for survival with John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who received an endorsement from the former president. The incumbent has vastly outspent his opponent: Meijer dropped $2.1 million on the campaign as of mid-July, compared to Gibbs’ $340,000.
The DCCC’s 30-second spot warns Gibbs is “too conservative” for West Michigan and that he was “handpicked by Trump to run for Congress.” It also notes that he worked for Ben Carson, Trump’s Housing and Urban Development secretary.
The spot is aimed at GOP primary voters who could be persuaded by Gibbs’ Trump ties. It will also raise Gibbs’ name ID in the district, especially given Gibbs’ campaign has not been able to air its own TV ads.
Democrats have meddled in a large number of GOP primaries this year, hoping to boost far-right challengers who will struggle to win their races in the fall. So far, they have not seen any success in congressional races. The party failed to boost Chris Mathys, a far-right challenger who ran against Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), another pro-impeachment Republican. Democratic meddling also did not boost its preferred GOP contender in an open seat in the Denver suburbs.
Meijer, a veteran with an independent streak, would likely be a more formidable general election candidate in a Biden-won district. Democrats are on track to nominate Hillary Scholten, their 2020 nominee. She lost to Meijer two years ago and would have a significant financial advantage over Gibbs.