It appears Michigan and national Republicans are trying to avoid the repeat of a situation that plagued the party in the 2022 midterms as the GOP gears up for a crowded Republican Senate primary race in the state. A Republican has not captured a Michigan Senate seat since 1994.
Republican alarms went off quickly after former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) — of the grocery store chain, for my fellow midwesterners — announced Monday that he would join the handful of other Republicans running in the primary for Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) seat, up in 2024.
“We are in dark and uncertain times, but we have made it through worse,” Meijer posted on Twitter to announce his bid. “The challenges are great, but so is our country. If we are to see another great American century, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to be bold, will do the work, and can’t be bought.”
Meijer was one of the 10 House Republicans who faced primary challengers in 2022 and fielded relentless MAGAworld attacks after voting with Democrats to impeach President Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. Meijer lost his 2022 primary race to a Trump-endorsed candidate, John Gibbs, who ultimately lost to Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI). It’s been expected for some time that Meijer would enter the Senate race after he created an exploratory committee in August.
Michigan Republicans are having heartburn about the wealthy and relatively well-known anti-Trump Republican’s candidacy in a race that’s already seen one Republican who has been critical of Trump enter the fray. Per the AP:
Questions still linger about whether a moderate candidate who voted to impeach Trump can survive a Republican primary. Trump won Michigan in 2016, and his endorsed candidates have overwhelmingly won primaries before losing by wide margins in general elections.
If Meijer could get past the GOP primary, he likely would present a formidable challenge to the Democratic nominee. His surname is one of the most recognizable in the state, and his reputation as a moderate Republican could help in a state that’s trended Democratic in recent years.
As captured by Detroit News reporter Craig Mauger, the Michigan Republican Party posted a now-deleted tweet reminding followers about Meijer’s vote to impeach Trump, not long after Meijer announced his bid.
The state party’s official Twitter account deleted the tweeted and blamed the post on an “over-zealous intern,” insisting that the MI GOP remains neutral in the primaries.
Later Monday afternoon, national Republicans piled on.
In a statement shared with Politico, National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Jason Thielman gave the official line on Republican concerns about Meijer’s run:
“Peter Meijer isn’t viable in a primary election, and there’s worry that if Meijer were nominated, the base would not be enthused in the general election,” he told Politico. But the committee is also reportedly concerned that Meijer, who tends to poll better among Democrats than Republicans, may ruin the chances of the moderate they’ve already recruited by splitting the centrist vote and “opening a path for a nominee who is not well-suited to win in the state,” in Politico’s words.
While Michigan is not necessarily the focal point of the NRSC’s efforts to recapture the Senate in 2024, the committee has already aggressively put its weight behind former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who has spoken out against Trump as well.
Per Politico, emphasis mine:
Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig is running as a staunch Trump ally. Craig has been plagued by staffing issues since launching his run in October and when he ran for governor in 2022 he failed to make the ballot. The Craig campaign views Meijer’s entrance as a positive development because he will now face two candidates who have criticized Trump and who could split the anti-Trump vote, according to a person close to the campaign.
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
What We Are Reading
Moms for Liberty members call the cops on Florida librarians — Popular Information
Donald Trump’s Gift to Adam Schiff — The Atlantic