WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Trump-backed challenger John Gibbs upset incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District.
Gibbs earned 51.85% of the vote compared to Meijer’s 48.15%. It was an about 4,000-vote difference.
Meijer conceded the race early Wednesday.
“This was a hard-fought primary campaign, and I want to thank everyone in West Michigan for their support,” he said in a statement. “Representing my hometown in Congress has been a tremendous honor for which I will always be grateful. I also want to congratulate my opponent, John Gibbs, on his victory tonight.”
Gibbs said he was feeling great and added that money did not buy this race.
“I really think this is an earthquake if you look at the amount of money spent versus the amount of money we spent — a huge differential,” said Gibbs. “I think this is something that will send shockwaves throughout the nation and something that will empower regular people that they can stand up and make change when necessary.”
It was a close race as results came in Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday morning. Gibbs said he was keeping a close eye on results as they came in.
“It’s a big jarring, you know, you go back and forth, you’re sitting there hitting reload on phones to see what latest results are,” he told News 8 shortly before midnight Tuesday. “But there are so many people praying for this, so I do feel a sense of calm and peace as well.”
But, he said, “I have a feeling we’ll pull it out.”
He was right.
Gibbs’ win comes after he was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, for whom he also previously worked. At the start of his first term in Congress, Meijer had voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The race drew eyes across the nation as a bellwether of Republican opinions about Trump and his politics.
“He betrayed his voters,” Gibbs said of Meijer earlier Tuesday evening. “Just several days after getting in (to Congress), he voted to impeach President Trump. And if you fast forward, just about a month ago, he voted for one of the biggest gun control bills in decades along with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and every single Democrat in the House. He voted for $40 billion for Ukraine when we can’t even secure our own borders. He voted for (President) Joe Biden’s big spending omnibus bill back in March. There’s just vote after vote after vote where he betrayed the people that he was supposed to be representing.”
He said his win showed that “we have to respect the will of the people.”
“(Meijer) had all the money in the world, the establishment backing and whatnot, but the people stood up and spoke. The people said that they would not be bought,” Gibbs said. “This is an important lesson for the powers that be out there to learn that they’ve really got to respect what the people want.”
“There’s certainly plenty of folks who wanted to nationalize the outcome of this race in one direction or another,” Meijer said. “My focus as the representative for West Michigan in Congress has been on West Michigan and has been trying to provide the strong, stable and effective representation that I think all West Michiganders should demand of their representatives in Congress.”
“Throughout my term, I have strived to always put West Michigan’s interests first. I’m proud to have passed multiple bills into law, putting me on track to have more bills passed than any freshman Republican in the House in recent history. I’m proud to have delivered critical resources to communities throughout our district. And I’m proud to have remained true to my principles, even when doing so came at a significant political cost.
“A Constitutional Republic like ours requires leaders who are willing to take on the big challenges, to find common ground when possible, and to put their love of country before partisan advantage. Every single day in office, I have tried to do precisely that, because it’s what West Michigan deserves from its leadership in Washington.
“I believe our community and our values are worth fighting for. Though this was not the outcome we hoped for, I will continue to do everything possible to move the Republican Party, West Michigan, and our country in a positive direction. I am thankful for all those who have supported my efforts — particularly my wife, Gabriella, my family, and my team here in West Michigan and in Washington — and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to serve the community I was born and raised in.”Rep. Peter Meijer
Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in the Nov. 8 general election.
Shortly before midnight, before conceding, Meijer criticized the DCCC political committee for funding late advertisements for Gibbs — a move apparently made in an effort to promote a candidate Democrats felt they had a better chance of beating in November.
“I know a lot of even my Democratic colleagues in Washington have been outraged at just the cynicism and hypocrisy that that represented,” Meijer said.
Gibbs told News 8 he believed the most important issues facing voters now are gas prices and inflation. He said if elected, his understanding of the “machinery of the government” borne from his time in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow him to get to work right away.
The 3rd District, which covers much of metro Grand Rapids and Ottawa and Muskegon counties, was long considered a Republican stronghold but it could be more of a tossup in November after Michigan’s legislative lines were redrawn this year.
–News 8’s Michael Oszust contributed to this report.