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Defeated GOP lawmaker sees ‘dark and cynical’ streak prevailing in politics

Michigan Republican Peter Meijer said Sunday that his primary defeat last Tuesday reflects the worst aspects of the “dark and cynical” nature of American politics today.

“We are dealing with a politics that does not reward substance, that does not reward, you know, reality,” the congressman said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Meijer was defeated by John Gibbs, a 2020 election denier backed by former President Donald Trump. Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in the general election.

Gibbs benefited both from Trump’s support and from ads funded by House Democrats, presumably because Democrats thought him to be a more beatable candidate than Meijer, who was one of only 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment. The district in Western Michigan is a priority for Democrats because, as it is now drawn, it is one of the few House districts in the country represented by a Republican that President Joe Biden won in 2020.

“The fact that we have the establishment left and the extreme right locking arms in common cause paints a very telling picture of where our politics are in 2022,” Meijer told host Margaret Brennan.

The spending on ads focused on Gibbs by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee drew complaints from some House Democrats. “No race is worth compromising your values in that way,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.).

For his part, Meijer suggested Sunday that as long as Biden is not particularly popular, the Democrats’ strategy could backfire and lead to Gibbs and others like him being elected.

“While I think there was certainly a cynical calculus at play with the Democrats meddling, this is a risky strategy,” he said, adding: “It is easy to see that strategy backfiring in a spectacular way, which is all the more reason why we should not be embracing the zero-sum idea of politics.”

Meijer lost by 3 percentage points. He said he was encouraged that despite the efforts of Trump and House Democrats, he still managed to draw almost half of the primary vote.

“We should not be embracing this notion that if we can keep a problem alive, keep it festering, but be able to gain a marginal advantage in the process, that that somehow equates to a victory,” he said. “I think it’s a dark and cynical way of viewing our politics that, frankly, 48 percent of the electorate in the primary here rejected. They stood against that cynicism.”

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