“John Gibbs is running against RINO Congressman Peter Meijer in Michigan’s 3rd District. Meyer has been a terrible representative of the Republican Party and beyond,” Trump said in a statement that misspells Meijer’s last name at one point. “John Gibbs is a fabulous talent who loves the State, our Military, and our Vets.”
The former President has made clear that he wants to shape the future of the party, putting a target on the Republicans who voted to impeach him. Some of those GOP lawmakers — like Reps. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — have announced they aren’t running for reelection next year, while others, like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, are running against Trump-endorsed primary challengers.
Asked about Trump’s endorsement of his primary challenger Monday evening, Meijer quipped that he is “shocked.”
“I never knew who this gentleman was before I heard he was running and haven’t found any connection he has to West Michigan,” the congressman told CNN. “It is a wonderful place and I look forward to welcoming him to it.”
Meijer, first elected to Congress last fall, said he is running for reelection but noted it’s unclear what impact Trump’s endorsement will have given his district lines haven’t been finalized.
Meijer had told CNN in January that he saw his vote to impeach Trump as a step toward “accountability” following the former President’s response to the US Capitol insurrection. “I was hoping to see the President rapidly try to de-escalate, try to denounce, try to stop the violence from occurring, and he abandoned his post,” Meijer told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the time.
“To me, that was disqualifying. My heart broke in that time, seeing folks ransacking the Capitol. And since then, the President has not accepted responsibility. I hold the seat that was held by Gerald Ford for 25 years before he was elevated to the White House. He pardoned Richard Nixon, but that was after Richard Nixon resigned and was held accountable for his actions. And here, there must be accountability.”
While Trump is expected to maintain a prolific schedule of campaign rallies to boost Republicans in next year’s midterms, some of his aides and allies warn there could be parts of the country where he may now be encouraged to keep his distance.
The “stay away strategy,” as one aide previously described it, would involve Trump steering clear of states or districts where a confluence of factors — such as his popularity and the demographic makeup — could mean his presence might sabotage Republican chances.
This story has been updated with comment from Rep. Peter Meijer.