LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Republican Peter Meijer won the House seat left open in western Michigan after Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash decided not to seek reelection.
Meijer, of Grand Rapids, beat Democrat Hillary Scholten after additional votes were counted Wednesday, one day after the election. Meijer is a 32-year-old veteran who served in Iraq and later led humanitarian missions. He works in urban redevelopment and real estate. His family founded the Meijer chain of stores.
During a press conference Thursday morning, in front of a quonset hut reminiscent of one Gerald R. Ford used in his first U.S. House campaign more than a half century ago before becoming president, Meijer said that when he gets to the nation’s capital, he will be a voice for everyone in West Michigan.
“I want to reiterate something that I said when I’m knocking on a door that may have one of my opponents signs on it: We want to make sure we’re representing everybody in West Michigan,” he said “Not just those who voted for us, but everybody who’s here because that’s ultimately the job at the end of the day of a representative in Congress.
On Wednesday night, Meijer took to social media to thank “not just those in West Michigan who put their faith and trust in me, but also … all who cast their vote and participated in this historic election. I’m honored & ready to get to work on behalf of all West Michiganders, and will not let you down.”
Scholten is an immigration lawyer who previously worked at the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
In a statement, she thanked her supporters and said the success she had seen demonstrates that West Michigan voters want change.
“The energy behind this campaign points to one thing: The tides are changing in West Michigan. We may not have won tonight, but this isn’t the end of our fight for a better and bright West Michigan for all—including low cost, accessible health care, clean water, and an economy that works for everyone.
“To every single person who knocked doors or made calls or supported our campaign: You helped move this community forward. You helped lay the foundation for progress and change in West Michigan. I am honored by your incredible support and enthusiasm. And I know, together, we will continue to build a better future for our community.”Hillary Scholten
Meijer and Scholten competed in what may be Michigan’s most competitive House race after Rep. Justin Amash decided not to seek reelection. The 3rd District, which the five-term Amash has represented for a decade, stretches south to the Battle Creek area.
The Meijer campaign released a statement declaring victory Wednesday night:
“When we launched this campaign in 2019, we had one mission: to ensure West Michigan had the strong, stable, and effective representation it deserves. Tonight, our neighbors sent a resounding affirmation of this same goal, and underscored our shared belief in the principles that have made this country great: limited government, economic opportunity, and protecting liberty.”
“There are pressing problems that the next Congress must address in a robust way. I look forward to working to establish a safe and strong COVID recovery, to implementing free market reforms to our healthcare system, and to address the climate crisis and protect our cherished Great Lakes. I will also work to end our endless wars and ensure that this Republic lives up to the promise of our Founders. I am deeply honored at the opportunity to serve this nation once again.”
Democrats who targeted the seat saw an opportunity to flip it with the departure of Amash, a former Republican who supported the impeachment of President Donald Trump. It has long been a GOP-leaning district but became heavily contested this cycle.
Meijer’s last ad featured a Vietnam veteran saying he trusted that Meijer would protect people with preexisting health conditions.
In her closing TV ad, Scholten said she lives on a middle-class street with no millionaires — an indirect reference to Meijer’s wealth. She pledged to protect medical coverage, including for those with preexisting conditions, amid Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Obama-era health care law.
The campaign committees for House Republicans and Democrats spent millions of dollars attacking Scholten on immigration issues and Meijer on health care.
The National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement to congratulate Meijer:
“Congratulations to Peter Meijer on his hard-fought victory. Peter is a true public servant who will always put West Michigan first and will work hard in Congress to grow the economy, lower taxes and protect jobs. I look forward to working alongside Peter in Congress.”
Amash issued a statement on Twitter congratulating Meijer on his win and thanking Scholten for fighting for West Michigan.
On Thursday morning, Meijer thanked Scholten for a “spirited” campaign and said he had spoken with Amash to ensure a smooth transition as he heads to Washington.
HUIZENGA, UPTON WIN REELECTION
In West Michigan, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton both win reelection to the U.S. House, the Associated Press projects.
Huizenga beat his Democratic opponent Bryan Berghoef, a pastor at Holland United Church of Christ, in Michigan’s 2nd Congressional race. Huizenga has served in the U.S. House since 2011.
The 2nd district includes Lake, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Ottawa counties, along with parts of Allegan, Kent and Mason counties.
Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton released a statement early Wednesday morning, declaring victory over his opponent state Rep. Jon Hoadley in Michigan’s 6th Congressional race.
“I am grateful for the trust – once again – to serve southwest Michigan for another two years. Our country faces enormous challenges, and I remain committed to working with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to get things done in a closely divided political climate.
“We absolutely have to come together for another COVID relief package that passes the bipartisan muster to aid our communities, health care providers, small businesses, schools, families, and the most vulnerable. Testing and an FDA-approved vaccine are critical to restoring our way of life.
“I am set to work with anyone from either party to get the job done. Full steam ahead.”U.S. Rep. Fred Upton
The Associated Press reported Upton won reelection to the U.S. House hours after his victory announcement.
Upton has served in the U.S. House since 1987.
The 6th district includes Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties, along with most of Allegan County.
The Associated Press has projected the following Michigan Congressional races as well:
- 1st Congressional District: Republican Jack Bergman wins reelection.
- 4th Congressional District: Republican John Moolenaar wins reelection.
- 7th Congressional District: Republican Tim Walberg wins reelection.
- 8th Congressional District: Democrat Elissa Slotkin wins reelection.
- 9th Congressional District: Democrat Andy Levin wins reelection.
- 10th Congressional District: Republican Lisa McClain wins the election.
- 11th Congressional District: Democrat Haley Stevens wins reelection.
- 12th Congressional District: Democrat Debbie Dingell wins reelection.
- 13th Congressional District: Democrat Rashida Tlaib wins reelection.
- 14th Congressional District: Democrat Brenda Lawrence wins reelection.