Illinois conservative Adam Kinzinger (R) has been voting with the Democrats a lot— far more than he did formerly and far more than, for example, Liz Cheney has been. I get the feeling that his loathing for Trump and Kevin McCarthy is strong enough to make him hope the Republicans lose the midterms. A patriot, he’s made no secret of the fact that he will do whatever he can to make sure Trump never gets into office again. He was obviously frustrated today and voicing a sentiment I hear not only from Republicans, but increasingly from Democrats, including very progressive Democrats sick and tired of all the pronoun-bullshit. Kamala Harris should stick to talking about Climate Change, bringing down inflation, raising the minimum wage and lowering the cost of drugs instead of hectoring Americans about completely unpopular academic political correctness and wokism.
Worse than Kamala-- in just about every imaginable way-- is disastrous DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney. He has nothing to do with political correctness. But he’s the strategist behind something much worse: using millions of dollars in DCCC funds to boost whack-job Trumpists, who the Democrats think will be easier targets in November. The idea is that, like crazy Republicans in the past— say Todd Akin (R-MO), Richard Mourdock (R-IN), Sharron Angle (R-NV), Christine O’Donnell (R-DE)— the most extreme GOP candidates can win primaries but not general elections. That’s a big gamble. And not all Democrats are happy about it. Sarah Ferris reported yesterday that “a growing number of “House Democrats are seething at [the DCCC] for meddling in a GOP primary to promote a pro-Trump election conspiracy theorist— after months of warning that such candidates were a threat to democracy.” Some Democratic members, they reported, “are aghast that the committee is spending nearly half a million dollars to air ads boosting Donald Trump-endorse John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), who voted to impeach Trump last year.”
That was never going to be an easy race for Meijer to begin with. It’s a rematch with a terrible Blue Dog candidate, Hillary Scholten but as bad as she is, the district is very changed in her favor. When he beat her last time— 53% to 47%— the partisan lean was R+9. After redistricting, it is D+3. As of the July 13 FEC reporting deadline, there were 3 Republicans plus Scholten raising and spending serious money:
Peter Meijer (R)- $2,738,713
Hillary Scholten (D)- $1,225,031
John Gibbs (R)- $479,309
Tom Norton (R)- $202,361
Because Scholten has no primary challenge and Meijer very much does, Scholten has the most cash on hand, almost $100,000 more than Meijer. He’s enormously wealthy, though, and can self-fund if he needs to. In 2020, he gave his campaign $987,566. So far the DCCC has spent more than any outside groups, almost half a million dollars— on independent expenditures, and none of not has been spent on Scholten!
“No race is worth compromising your values in that way,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), who sits on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and Trump’s election-subverting schemes that preceded it.
Democrats, like Murphy, fear the strategy could easily backfire, if a candidate like Gibbs were to win the general election amid a GOP wave — and the party also risks undercutting its own core message about the dangers of MAGA Republicans taking power. It could be harder for Democrats to claim that certain GOP candidates are an existential threat to the country if they are also using party money to push them closer to winning office.
Some members’ frustrations are particularly acute now, after months of simmering tensions with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) over other issues during his tenure as chair of the DCCC.
“Many of us are facing death threats over our efforts to tell the truth about Jan. 6. To have people boosting candidates telling the very kinds of lies that caused Jan. 6 and continues to put our democracy in danger, is just mind-blowing,” said Murphy, who is not seeking reelection this fall.
For some, the better chance of flipping one seat is not worth the risk of Gibbs roaming the halls of Congress. The DCCC’s ad calls Gibbs “too conservative for West Michigan,” links him repeatedly to Trump and trumpets his “hard line on immigrants at the border.”
“I do want to win these races, but it makes me worried,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who recalled that others in her party believed Trump would be the easiest candidate for Democrats to defeat in 2016. “I just really worry about promoting election deniers and this idea that we’re going to be able to control what voters want at the end of the day.”
And while senior Democrats were willing to bet that their candidate would win the general election against Gibbs, some lawmakers worried it was a bad gamble for a party that’s already widely seen as the underdog in the midterms.
“It’s very dangerous, I think, in this environment to be propping up candidates like that,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who called it “a terrible idea” and said he has raised his concerns to the DCCC.
“Of course, it could backfire. And that’s part of the reason why I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said. “Not only do I think it sends the wrong message, but it’s substantively risky.”
…House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC closely aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, aired ads in the spring meant to boost a far-right challenger to Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), another pro-impeachment Republican. Some Democratic members were also uncomfortable with that move [which was a costly failure].
But the DCCC’s decision to spend $425,000 running the ad significantly escalates the party’s involvement, since it was funded, in part, from lawmakers’ own membership dues. Those members see it as a clear endorsement of the tactic by their own party leaders, even as it remains unclear whether it will work in must-win swing seats this fall, or if it will simply help election-denying Republicans get elected to Congress.
“It’s dishonorable, and it’s dangerous, and it’s just damn wrong,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who said his party was at risk of accelerating the loss of the remaining “truly honorable and courageous Republicans” like Meijer, who was one of just 10 in his party to impeach Trump last year.
…“I just think that it’s strange decision-making and I let them know that.” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) said.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) went further: “It is wrong.”
…Some of the sharpest criticism, unsurprisingly, came from Meijer himself.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing the sanctimonious bullshit about the Democrats being the pro-democracy party,” the Republican incumbent said.
Dave Weigel had a similar conversation with Meijer. Yesterday, he and his colleagues Colby Itkowitz and Arjun Singh wrote that when Meijer learned about the Dems spending all that money to boost a crackpot insurrectionist he told Weigel he had “‘assumed it might happen.’ The ‘high-minded rhetoric’ of his Democratic colleagues, he added, had been ‘translated into galling hypocrisy.’”
Tuesday’s primary is shaping up as a test for both parties on dynamics that have been more broadly present in intraparty contests this year. For Republicans, it will offer a fresh glimpse of attitudes among GOP primary voters toward Trump and incumbents who have stood against him. For Democrats, it will be measure of their ability and willingness to affect the outcome of Republican races.
While Democratic meddling is nothing new, it has taken on greater significance this year, becoming a go-to tactic for well-funded organizations aligned with the party in some marquee statewide races where GOP candidates have embraced Trump’s false election claims and have run on hard-right platforms. The results have been mixed, and the strategy will be tested again in the next round of primaries, even beyond Michigan.
…“I think it’s pretty dishonest and dishonorable,” said Jason Roe, a GOP operative in Michigan. “They risk electing people who are incapable of governing.”
…In the past, Gibbs has promoted a baseless conspiracy theory about Democrats, and in 2016 he suggested in a tweet that Democrats were focused on “Islam, gender-bending, anti-police.” He has been criticized for his comments by lawmakers in both parties, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Romney later said when Gibbs was nominated to head the Office of Personnel Management that his remarks were “disparaging of Islam and at the same [time] have fostered or promoted some relatively extreme, if not bizarre or nonsensical, conspiracy theories.”
…Many Republicans in Meijer’s district were furious that he bucked Trump, and several county-level GOP groups censured him for his impeachment vote, though the larger state party voted down a censure resolution. In recent interviews around the district, several voters brought up Gibbs’s false insistence that Trump won the 2020 election and said they saw Meijer as part of a dying GOP establishment that Trump allies want to purge.
Zach Lahring, chairman of the Muskegon County GOP, which censured Meijer, said the congressman is not in line with the current Republican Party. “Peter Meijer does not represent the Republican platform at all,” he said. “He does not represent me as a Republican. He doesn’t represent Christian conservative values. It’s just a big, huge ‘no, thank you.’ ”
The DCCC is aiming to amplify such sentiments with its ad. The words “Endorsed by Donald Trump” flash on screen below a photo of Gibbs and the former president.
…Meijer, in the interview, said such an approach will end up electing more politicians whom Democrats — and Republicans like him — consider dangerous.
“If they have a handful of just absolutely harebrained folks doing and saying zany things,” Democrats “will be rolling in the dough and the body politic will continue to disintegrate and degrade,” Meijer said. “And consultants are only paid for one of those things.”
…Democrats have elevated other pro-Trump Republicans this year in places where they are confident that they can beat them, despite the sour national mood and the unpopularity of the Biden administration. Polls have shown Biden’s approval rating plunging, with clear majorities expressing disapproval of the job he is doing.
Unmentioned is how Republican dollars— though not through the official party committees— have flooded into blue districts, via AIPAC and DMFI (2 GOP front groups working with shady Brooklyn Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, a Wall Street puppet) to defeat progressives. Tuesday, while Meijer is trying to overcome Democratic money (and a vicious Trump assault against him) in his Michigan GOP primary in the western part of the state, in the eastern part, both Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib will be fighting for their lives as Republican money tries to end their careers and nominate malleable conservative Democrats.