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House members blast Democrats' meddling in Michigan GOP primary with ad boosting Trump-backed candidate

“The DCCC is laser-focused on holding the House majority, which we will accomplish by fighting for every competitive seat,” a Democratic campaign committee spokesperson said.
Rep. Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks at a House Jan. 6 committee hearing at the Capitol on Thursday.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Democrats, as well as some Republicans, are ripping into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for airing a TV ad Tuesday amplifying the right-wing positions of GOP candidate John Gibbs — an election-denying former Trump administration official who secured his ex-boss’ endorsement — in a tight GOP primary race for a key Michigan congressional seat.

The Democratic campaign committee's $425,000 ad highlights Gibbs’ ties to former President Donald Trump while painting Gibbs as "too conservative" for western Michigan, saying that he was “handpicked by Trump to run" and that he holds Trump's hard-line views on immigration and education. The criticism could translate into votes from pro-Trump voters that undermine support for first-term Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, one of a handful of House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Meijer’s campaign said the campaign committee’s meddling was “clear evidence” that House Democrats fear Meijer as a potential rival for the seat, suggesting they are looking to undermine him in his primary for an easier win in November. His spokesperson, Emily Taylor, blasted what she called the Democrats’ “political game” in a statement Tuesday.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn 2020 presidential election results, said she condemned any effort to promote candidates who continue to spread election falsehood.

“No party, Democrat or Republican, should be promoting candidates who perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and try to undermine our democracy," Cheney said in a statement Tuesday. "We all have a responsibility and obligation to put our duty to the country above partisan politics.”

Meijer joined Cheney and eight other House Republicans who broke with their party in voting to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, another Republican on the committee who voted for impeachment, said any efforts to promote election deniers for an easier match-up in November were "disgusting."

“You see this in Peter Meijer in Michigan, you're going to have election deniers win," Kinzinger, who is not running for re-election, said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day."

"Don’t come to me after having spent money supporting an election denier in a primary and then come to me and say, ‘Where are all the good Republicans?’” he said.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who is also on the panel, also blasted the decision.

“Many of us are facing death threats over our efforts to tell the truth about Jan. 6," Murphy said in a statement. "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."

Murphy, who also is not seeking re-election in the fall, added that efforts to restore faith in election processes and democratic institutions are bigger than any one candidate or campaign.

"No one should be promoting election deniers and peddlers of the 'Big Lie,'" she said.

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., who led part of the Jan. 6 committee’s prime-time public hearing last week, suggested that an overwhelming majority of Republicans running for office continue to deny the results of the 2020 election, "including every single one of the Republican candidates running for the GOP primary against me."

"Voters deserve to know the truth about these candidates and just how dangerous they are to our democracy,” Luria added in a statement.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., also voiced sharp disapproval in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m disgusted that hard-earned money intended to support Democrats is being used to boost Trump-endorsed candidates, particularly the far-right opponent of one of the most honorable Republicans in Congress,” Phillips wrote, referring to Meijer. “Another reason to reform our broken campaign finance system.”

Helen Kalla, a spokesperson for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, responded in a statement Wednesday that the committee was working to preserve the House Democratic majority.

“The DCCC is laser-focused on holding the House majority, which we will accomplish by fighting for every competitive seat. Kevin McCarthy is an anti-choice, insurrectionist coddler and conspiracy enabler, and we will do what it takes to keep the speaker’s gavel out of his hands,” Kalla said. McCarthy, the House Republican leader from California, has remained a Trump ally in the wake of Jan. 6 despite some initial tensions between them over the issue.