The Republican field for an open US Senate seat in Michigan is starting to get crowded with anti-abortion candidates and billionaires. Will voters buy what they’re trying to sell?
MICHIGAN—Former Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, an heir to the eponymous multi-billion-dollar Midwestern grocery store chain, announced on Monday that he will join a field of more than a dozen candidates vying for an open US Senate seat in Michigan next year.
In a statement, Meijer said that he “prayed hard” about his decision to launch his campaign.
“We are in dark and uncertain times, but we have made it through worse. The challenges are great, but so is our country. If we are to see another great American century, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to be bold, will do the work, and can’t be bought,” he posted on Twitter.
Meijer served one term in Congress before being ousted by voters last year following his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. He has said he opposes reproductive rights—even in cases of rape and incest—and that he supports federal legislation to ban or restrict abortion.
And with campaign branding that clearly evokes images of his billionaire family’s popular grocery store chain, Meijer is now aiming to take control next year of a US Senate seat that has been held by soon-to-retire Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow for more than two decades.
Meijer joins former Republican US Rep. Mike Rogers and ex-Detroit Police Chief James Craig in the Republican field, while the Democratic field has been led by US Rep. Elissa Slotkin—who has been widely viewed as the frontrunner since first announcing her campaign in February.
Meijer, who is from Grand Rapids, is a former Army reserve officer who served in Iraq. He’s also the great-grandson of Hendrik Meijer, who founded the grocery store after emigrating to the US in 1934. The company now reportedly rakes in an annual revenue of more than $20 billion, making his family one of the wealthiest families in the state of Michigan—and the country.
Last year, Meijer told the Detroit News that he supported the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and that he “does see a need for federal legislation to ban or restrict abortion.” Like Rogers, he also said he would oppose exceptions for rape or incest in that federal ban.
Meijer also voted against the federal Women’s Health Protection Act last year, which aimed to create new federal legal protections for the right to provide and access reproductive health care.
Views on Trump
In 2021, Meijer joined nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump following the deadly mob siege of the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He would go on to lose reelection to a Trump-backed primary opponent in 2022, despite having a significant fundraising advantage.
Meijer has said that he stands behind his vote to impeach Trump, but also said he would support a second Trump presidency, if he were nominated as the Republican candidate in 2024.
Questions still linger about whether a candidate who voted to impeach Trump can survive a Republican primary. Trump won Michigan in 2016, and his endorsed candidates have overwhelmingly won primaries before losing to Democrats by wide margins in general elections.
Shortly after Meijer’s campaign announcement on Monday, the Michigan Republican Party posted on Twitter to remind voters about Meijer’s past efforts to have Trump impeached. The Michigan GOP later deleted the post, but not before it could be screenshotted by a reporter.
A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which reportedly recruited Rogers to launch his campaign, told Politico that Meijer “isn’t viable in a primary election.”
Republicans have won just one of Michigan’s last 15 Senate races.
Defending the Michigan seat could prove crucial for Democrats in their continued efforts to maintain the Senate, where the party holds a 51-49 majority and faces tough headwinds as they defend seats in Republican-leaning states, includingWest Virginia, Montana, and Ohio.
Although the billionaire DeVos family has maxed out their campaign contributions on Rogers, Slotkin’s campaign still had nearly $4 million more in the bank than any other Senate candidate through September, according to campaign finance numbers released last month.
The primary election is Aug. 6, 2024 and the general election will be held on Nov. 5, 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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