A conservative explains how one 'normal' anti-Trump Republican screwed up his own election in Michigan last night
Congressman Peter Meijer speaking with attendees at the American Conservation Coalition's 2022 Summit. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Writing for the Bulwark, Jonathan V. Last explained that the results in the Michigan Third Congressional district's GOP primary aren't what they appear to be on the face.

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) was one of few Republicans willing to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, and he fell to pro-Trump GOP opponent John Gibbs. Ahead of the election, Meijer whined that Democrats were making his life harder by dumping $500,000 into the primary race to promote Gibbs as a right-wing conspiracy nut. In that district, it was proven to be a feature not a flaw.

Meijer went down, but according to Last it had very little to do with the Democratic spending.

"Let’s start with the DCCC: They ran ads explaining to Michigan voters what sort of crazy person Meijer’s opponent was. These were not positive ads. They accurately described Gibbs’s nuttiness," Last wrote. "These ads were purely negative. But also the DCCC knew what they were doing. They were helping Gibbs by raising his name ID with voters who would see the negatives as positives—by voters who want crazy. These DCCC ad buys were, as I wrote at the time, foolish, dishonorable, and dangerous."

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For Democrats, the seat is already a red one, so if they lose, they won't have lost anything, but if they win, it will be a pick-up set for them.

Meanwhile, as Last explained, Meijer may have voted to impeach, but he spent the campaign pretending like he didn't.

"Meijer has spent the last year-plus running away from impeachment and just kind of hoping that his voters would forget about it" wrote Last. "He took no preemptive action to defend himself against the most salient issue for Republican primary voters. He did not aggressively defend himself. He did not make his affirmative case for impeachment. He simply went into turtle guard and hoped for the best. All while he kept blaming Democrats for the world’s problems."

Whining about it to Bari Weiss’s Substack, Meijer had the Democrats running a negative ad that described his opponent as a nutter, was worse than Republicans threatening him with violence and death. For rational Republicans looking for an alternative, Meijer wasn't providing them with much of one. But according to Meijer, if his voters knew nothing about Gibbs they would have made the "right choice" and voted for him instead. Democrats didn't "trick" voters into voting for Gibbs. Republican voters knew exactly who they were voting for.

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At the same time, as Last pointed out, it's never a good look to call your voters stupid or attack them publicly.

Another comment came from Christian Vanderbrouk also at the Bulwark. The GOP didn't help defend Meijer.

"I did not see Kevin McCarthy barnstorming Meijer’s district to give him cover for his impeachment vote. And how much money did McCarthy’s Congressional Leadership Fund PAC spend in defense of Meijer?" asked Last. "No. Meijer was on an island with his impeachment vote and his money, fending for himself."

It isn't up to Democrats to defend a Republican from "team normal." The GOP has to decide for themselves whether they want to be the party of Trump or the party of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. In Michigan, the voters made that choice.

Read the full commentary at the Bulwark.