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Rep. Peter Meijer narrowly loses to Trump-endorsed challenger in Michigan primary

Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Capitol riot, has narrowly lost his Republican primary to Trump-backed conservative challenger John Gibbs, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

The loss for Meijer is a boost for Trump as he continues endorsing primary challenges to Republican Senate and House members who disagree with his false narrative that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Meijer, a moderate freshman Republican, was one of just 10 House GOP members who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Gibbs, a former Trump appointee to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, echoes similar rhetoric as the former president about denying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Gibbs will face off against Democratic nominee Hillary Scholten in November. Scholten, a former lawyer at the Department of Justice, lost to Meijer in 2020 by over 6 percentage points.

But following redistricting, Michigan's 3rd Congressional District looks different than it did two years ago. The Grand Rapids-based district now leans more Democratic than in previous cycles and is considered a toss-up contest by the Cook Political Report.

And in a year in which Democrats are in serious jeopardy of losing their majority in the House, the party is eyeing Michigan's 3rd as a potential get.

Tensions rose between Meijer and House Democrats last week after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released an ad against Gibbs, painting him as "too conservative for West Michigan."

Meijer claimed the 30-second ad would benefit Gibbs in the Republican primary.

But given the district is a toss-up seat, voters nominating a more extreme conservative in the primary could hurt Republican chances of keeping it red in November.

"You would think that the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear," Meijer wrote in an opinion piece published the day before his primary.

"That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they've said are an existential threat. Instead they are funding Gibbs," he added.

The DCCC has declined to comment on the advertisement, which reportedly cost $425,000.

"If successful, Republican voters will be blamed if any of these candidates are ultimately elected, but there is no doubt Democrats' fingerprints will be on the weapon," Meijer also wrote, "We should never forget it."

Here's where things stand for the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump

While Republicans' future hold over the district is uncertain heading into November, the future for the last few House Republicans who stood up against Trump in the aftermath of Jan. 6 remains in the balance.

Since voting to impeach Trump, more than half of the 10 GOP members have either announced that they won't seek reelection or have lost a primary reelection bid to a more conservative challenger.

Washington state Reps. Jaime Herrera Butler and Dan Newhouse also faced primary challengers Tuesday. The only member of the group of 10 to win their primary reelection bid so far has been California Rep. David Valadao.

For the final primary matchup of this group, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney will face off against Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman on Aug. 16.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.