U.S. Rep. Meijer loses seat to Trump-endorsed, far-right candidate who peddles unfounded conspiracy theories

Meijer, a freshman Republican, was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection

click to enlarge Republican Congressional candidate John Gibbs takes a call from former President Donald Trump after Tuesday's victory. - Twitter
Republican Congressional candidate John Gibbs takes a call from former President Donald Trump after Tuesday's victory.

A far-right conspiracy theorist defeated U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer by a thin margin in the primary election Tuesday, signifying that former President Donald Trump’s influence remains strong in West Michigan.

John Gibbs, an election denier endorsed by Trump, will face Democratic nominee Hillary Scholten in November for the 3rd District seat in the Grand Rapids and Muskegon area.

“Just got a call from President Trump, congratulating me and my team on tonight’s big win!” Gibbs tweeted early Wednesday morning. “Thank you, Mr. President for your support.”

Meijer, a freshman Republican, was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“I’m proud to have remained true to my principles, even when doing so came at a significant political cost,” Meijer said in a statement.

Although Gibbs only raised a small fraction of money for his campaign than Meijer, he was helped by national Democrats who bought $435,000 in ads to promote him.

Democrats are gambling that Scholten has a better chance of defeating a far-right candidate in a newly drawn district that slightly leans Democratic.

Meijer defeated Scholten by 6 percentage points in the current district, which skews Republican.

Hoping to maintain control of the House, the seat is an important one for Democrats.

Gibbs, a software engineer and political commentator who was appointed by Trump to work in the Department of Urban and Housing Development, has spread lies about widespread election fraud. Gibbs said Republicans should reopen investigations into the 2020 election.

On his website, he lists “election integrity as one of his top issues, claiming that there were “widespread irregularities and statistical anomalies in the 2020 election,” and that “the practices of ballot harvesting and mass mailing of ballots to every voter, are far outside of international standards and would be considered corrupt if used in any developing country.”

Gibbs also has a history of conspiratorial and inflammatory tweets. He accused John Podesta, the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run, of participating in a Satanic ritual and called Democrats the party of “Islam, gender-bending, anti-police, ‘u-racist!”

Scholten is a lawyer who clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before working in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama. She currently works at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and volunteers for Times Up Legal Defense, a group that provides legal services to women who are sexually harassed in the workplace.

In an op-ed on Monday, Meijer criticized Democrats for interfering in the election and acknowledged that the race was going to be close.

“The only thing that has been more nauseating has been the capacity of my Democratic colleagues to sell out any pretense of principle for political expediency — at once decrying the downfall of democracy while rationalizing the use of their hard-raised dollars to prop up the supposed object of their fears,” Meijer wrote.

FreedomWorks for America, a poetical organization that promotes Republicans, congratulated Gibbs, calling him “an authentic conservative leader.”

“Gibbs fought tirelessly for the American people during his time in the Trump administration, even as he endured attacks from the Left and the deeply entrenched bureaucratic state,” FreedomWorks for America Executive Director Noah Wall said in a statement. “Michigan voters know that Gibbs — who has lived the American Dream — is the real deal and that he will demonstrate that same characteristic fighting spirit in Congress. That’s exactly why they voted for him tonight.”

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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