Michigan GOP Rep. Meijer loses reelection after Trump vote
Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who witnessed the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection days after taking office and then cast one of the 10 Republican votes to impeach Donald Trump over it, has lost his reelection bid.
Meijer was defeated in a primary Tuesday by Trump-endorsed John Gibbs, a businessman and missionary who served in the Trump administration under Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
Two Republicans in Washington state who incurred Trump’s wrath by voting for impeachment also went before voters. Races involving Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse were too early to call by Wednesday morning.
Trump vowed revenge against the 10 who crossed party lines on the impeachment vote, and he endorsed party challengers to them in the midterm elections.
In other races, Rep. Haley Stevens ousted Rep. Andy Levin in their Democratic primary in Michigan. Democratic Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both members of the progressive “Squad” in Congress, sailed through. In Arizona, a leading figure in the QAnon conspiracy movement fell way short.
Some of the top elections:
FACING VOTERS AFTER IMPEACHMENT VOTES
Gibbs defeated Meijer despite the first-term incumbent having a large fundraising advantage. Gibbs cast Meijer as not a true Republican because of the impeachment vote. He also chastised Meijer for supporting bipartisan gun control legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law in June.
Meijer, a member of the Army Reserves who served in Iraq, had criticized Biden over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as his handling of the economy.
“A Constitutional Republic like ours requires leaders who are willing to take on the big challenges, to find common ground when possible, and to put their love of country before partisan advantage,” Meijer said in a statement. “Though this was not the outcome we hoped for, I will continue to do everything possible to move the Republican Party, West Michigan, and our country in a positive direction.”
Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in November in the Democratic-leaning 3rd Congressional District.
Herrera Beutler and Newhouse had an advantage over Meijer because their primaries are nonpartisan, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will move on to the general election in November. Each incumbent faced multiple Republican candidates.
Herrera Beutler, who has been in Congress since 2011, was in second place in early returns in the 3rd Congressional District, trailing Democrat Marie Perez but slightly ahead of fellow Republican Joe Kent. Kent, a former Green Beret whose wife was killed by a suicide bomber in 2019 in Syria, was endorsed by Trump. He heavily promoted the former president’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
In a Zoom call with reporters after early returns posted, Herrera Beutler said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the results that indicate she could advance.
“If I get through this, I’m not going to change, I’m not going to be a different person,” she said. “No one will work harder for this district than I will.”
Newhouse had a narrow lead over Democrat Doug White in the 4th Congressional District, which Newhouse has represented since 2015. Republican Loren Culp, a former small-town police chief endorsed by Trump, was in third place in early returns.
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, four opted not to run for reelection. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina lost to a Trump-endorsed challenger in June and Rep. David Valadao of California survived a primary challenge. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is bracing for defeat in her Aug. 16 primary against a Trump-backed rival.
CANDIDATE LINKED TO QANON
Ron Watkins, one of the most prominent figures in the QAnon conspiracy movement, will not be heading to Congress this year.
Watkins was last in early returns in his Republican primary for Arizona’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District. He served as the longtime administrator of online message boards that helped seed the conspiracy movement whose adherents believe a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters secretly runs the globe.
Watkins no longer runs the message boards and has denied fueling the QAnon movement. He said he was running for Congress because he hopes to “fix the machine from the inside.”
He was considered a long shot in the crowded GOP field, having been outpaced in campaign fundraising by the other candidates.
State Rep. Walter Blackman and Eli Crane, a former Navy SEAL who owns a bottle opener business and was endorsed by Trump, were at the top of the field. The winner will take on Democratic Rep. Tom O′Halleran in November in a district that favors Republicans.
FROM COLLEAGUES TO COMPETITORS
Stevens’ victory over Levin came in a newly drawn 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit that favors Democrats, which means Stevens will likely win the seat in November.
Stevens got a financial boost from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC launched by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, commonly called AIPAC. Levin, a progressive member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been highly critical of Israel’s record on human rights.
The congresswoman flipped a district in 2018 that was long held by Republicans. Before running for office, she led the auto bailout under President Barack Obama.
CHALLENGING THE ‘SQUAD’
Tlaib defeated three Democratic challengers in her quest for a third term. Because of redistricting, she is running in the newly drawn Detroit-area 12th Congressional District that favors Democrats and is expected to prevail in November. Tlaib’s main competition came from longtime Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who had strong name recognition in the city.
Bush’s win in the 1st Congressional District was against state Sen. Steve Roberts, who hedged his campaign on the idea that Bush, a vocal advocate for defunding the police and moving money to social services and mental health programs, was too liberal even for heavily Democratic St. Louis.
Bush promoted her accomplishments, including persuading the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up radioactive waste near a St. Louis County creek, pushing for climate change action and standing against evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 YEARS AFTER TUCSON SHOOTING, INTERN SEEKS GIFFORDS’ SEAT
Daniel Hernandez Jr., the intern credited with saving then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life after an attempted assassination in 2011, lost in the Democrat primary for her former seat.
Hernandez was a 20-year-old college student in his first week interning for Giffords when he went to her “Congress on your corner” constituent event. A gunman there opened fire, killing six and injuring 13. Hernandez kept the Democratic congresswoman conscious and applied pressure to her head wound until paramedics arrived.
Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago, Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan, Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington, and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.