Democrats embrace meddling in Republican primaries, celebrate ‘MAGA extremist’ victory in Michigan House race

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is embracing its strategy of meddling in Republican primaries following Tuesday's upset victory of John Gibbs over incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer in Michigan's 3rd Congressional District.

In an exclusive statement to Fox News Digital, the DCCC — the campaign organization responsible for running hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads to boost Gibbs in the primary — celebrated his victory, and referred to him as a "MAGA extremist" that would ensure Democrats would retake the seat in November.

"Last night, Donald Trump’s dream became the GOP’s nightmare. John Gibbs’ winning this primary seals the fate of Republicans hoping to keep this now Democratic-leaning district," the DCCC said in the statement.

"An anti-choice radical who sided with violent insurrectionists and would throw out your vote if he doesn’t like it, Gibbs is no match for Hillary Scholten, who has dedicated her career to bringing people together to get things done. Republicans have no choice but to embrace their unelectable MAGA extremist candidate," the DCCC added.

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Gibbs narrowly came out on top in a race that drew national attention following Meijer's vote to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol last year.

Meijer's vote drew the ire of Trump, who thrust his support behind Gibbs last fall in a continued effort to oust those who supported his failed impeachment.

Meijer's campaign blasted the DCCC following his loss to Gibbs, telling Fox News Digital in an exclusive statement that Democrats were responsible for ousting a member of Congress willing to "stand up for the Constitution."

"In a close race, $425k in free television advertisements from the Democrats certainly helped John Gibbs. There is no doubt about that," said Kevin Seifert, an adviser to Meijer's campaign. "The Democrats didn’t want to face Peter Meijer in a general election, so they propped up and actively funded a Trump-endorsed candidate. It’s that simple." 

"Democrats got the match-up they wanted and in the process, threw overboard one of the few members of the House Republican Conference who was willing to stand on principle and stand up for the Constitution. It’s reprehensible," he added.

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The DCCC has also drawn sharp criticism for its election meddling from some House Democrats, including Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., who called it "unconscionable," and accused the organization of supporting candidates who want to "destroy our democracy."

The Justice Democrats, a left-wing group supported by "Squad" member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., reacted to the meddling by accusing the DCCC of being more willing to support Republicans than progressive Democrats.

The DCCC, however, has continued to defend its strategy, telling Fox News Digital that it would "do what it takes" to maintain control of the House of Representatives in November.

"The DCCC is laser focused on holding the House majority and will do what it takes to keep the speaker's gavel out of McCarthy's hands," spokesperson Matt Corrodoni said.

Gibbs will now face Democrat nominee Hillary Scholten in what is expected to be one of the most closely watched races in this year's midterms.

Trump’s sway over GOP still strong as his endorsed candidates win key primaries Tuesday

It has been a year and a half since former President Trump left the White House, but the results from the latest round of primaries proves that his immense grip over the Republican Party remains firm.

While the biggest headline from Tuesday’s primaries in five states was the resounding victory in Kansas for abortion rights activists – in the first ballot box test of legalized abortion since the blockbuster June decision by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling – candidates backed by Trump came out on top in high-profile contests that grabbed plenty of national attention.

"Fantastic night in Michigan! Tudor Dixon will be a great Governor," the former president exclaimed on Truth Social, the social media platform founded by one of his companies.

Dixon, a conservative commentator and former online news host, won Michigan’s GOP gubernatorial primary by double digits over her rivals and will face off in November against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the key Midwestern battleground state.

HEAD TO THE FOX NEWS ELECTION CENTER FOR THE LATEST PRIMARY RESULTS

Trump praised Dixon in April at a rally he headlined in Michigan, but he held off on endorsing the candidate until Friday, backing her after a new round of public opinion polls indicated her growing lead in the Republican nomination contest. The former president also held a tele-rally on Dixon's behalf the eve of the primary.

Meddling in the race by the Democratic Governors Association appeared unsucessful. The group, which supports Democratic incumbents and candidates in gubernatorial races, spent seven-figures trying to knock off Dixon in the final weeks of the primary campaign.

The former president also scored another big win in Michigan, with the primary defeat of Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach the then-president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Meijer, an Iraq War veteran who was elected to Congress in 2020, had been targeted by the former president over his impeachment vote and his comments that Trump was "unfit for office." The former president endorsed John Gibbs, a former software developer who served in the Trump administration as an acting assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

TRUMP-BACKED GIBBS DOWNS INCUMBENT MEIJER IN GOP PRIMARY IN MICHIGAN

Gibbs, a strong supporter of Trump’s repeated unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" due to "massive voter fraud," narrowly edged Meijer in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, on the western side of the state’s lower peninsula, a seat House Democrats view as competitive in November’s midterm elections.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is hoping to flip the district from red to blue as it tries to hold onto the party’s razor-thin majority in the chamber in the midterms, sees Gibbs as a weaker general election candidate than Meijer. Additionally, the DCCC meddled in the Republican primary, spending big bucks to boost Gibbs conservative credentials.

"John Gibbs WON with a big surge in the end. Not a good time for Impeachers," Trump touted.

Meijer was not the only House Republican on the ballot on Tuesday who voted to impeach Trump. GOP Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington State were facing multiple primary challengers — including candidates backed by Trump. Election results were still being counted in Washington, and no calls were made in either race as of early Wednesday morning. Washington conducts what is known as a jungle primary, in which the top two vote-getters — regardless of party affiliation — advance to the general election.

The former president also celebrated in Arizona, where a handful of candidates he endorsed – and who heavily supported Trump’s continued re-litigation of the 2020 election in a state that Biden narrowly won in the 2020 presidential election – came out on top.

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Trump-endorsed venture capitalist Blake Masters won the GOP Senate primary. Masters’ bid was also backed and heavily supported by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, his former boss. Thiel pumped $15 million of his own money into a super PAC that boosted Masters, who will face off in November against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in a key battleground state race that may determine if the GOP wins back the Senate majority.

Trump-backed Mark Finchem – who claims that the 2020 election in Arizona’s Pima County was stolen – won the Republican nomination for Secretary of State.

In the gubernatorial primary, the race for the GOP nomination was still too close to call. Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor backed by Trump, held a slight edge early Wednesday over real estate developer and Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and term-limited Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

ARIZONA GOP GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY STILL TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Trump also claimed victory in Missouri’s high-profile and combustible GOP Senate primary, where state Attorney General Eric Schmitt came out on top in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

After teasing on Monday that he would be making an endorsement in the race, Trump declined to choose between Schmitt and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who were two of the three leading contenders in the primary race.

Instead, Trump gave his support to both of them, as he backed "ERIC" on the eve of the primary.

"Great going "Eric." Big Night. Thank you!" Trump wrote after Schmitt’s victory.

While some Trump-backed candidates went down to defeat in high-profile contests earlier this primary season, Tuesday’s primaries once again prove that the former president remains the most popular, influential, and powerful politician in the GOP, as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in party primaries and appears to move closer to announcing another White House bid in 2024.

"Trump’s endorsed candidates had a good night. His endorsement record in GOP primaries remains very strong. Sometimes he rides the wave and endorses obvious winners late, sometimes he creates the wave. The more he wins, the more he is feared by GOP candidates," veteran Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told Fox News.

However, Democrats view victories by some Trump-backed GOP contenders in Republican primaries as gifts, giving them what they view are easier targets to attack. 

In a taste of things to come, Sen. Kelly’s re-election campaign blasted Masters, charging that Arizona’s GOP Senate nominee has "dangerous beliefs that are wildly out of step with Arizona and harmful to Arizona families – like a national abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest and privatizing social security."

Mackowiak noted that "the more Trump pulls unproven GOP candidates over the primary finish line, the more he will be responsible for general election wins and losses with the stakes as high as they are."

Primary election polls closing in states where Trump, Pence, abortion are in the spotlight

Polls have begun to close in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas, where former President Donald Trump’s immense sway over the Republican Party is once again at play in the GOP primary elections.

On the ballot Tuesday in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington are high-profile gubernatorial, Senate and House nomination showdowns. Arizona polls will close at 10 p.m. ET and Washington's elections will end at 11 p.m. ET.

Also in the spotlight: three House Republicans who voted to impeach the then-president over the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol are fighting for their political lives as they face Trump-backed challengers; a proxy war between Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence; and a member of the so-called "Squad" of diverse, progressive House Democrats faces a primary challenge. 

Kansas voters will weigh in on abortion in the first ballot box test since the Supreme Court’s conservative majority in June overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, sending the combustible issue of legalized abortion back to the states.

HEAD TO THE FOX NEWS ELECTION CENTER FOR THE LATEST PRIMARY RESULTS

Here is what to watch.

Missouri

Trump on Monday backed "ERIC" in Missouri's high-profile and combative GOP Senate nomination race, on the eve of the state's primary.

After teasing hours earlier that he would be making an endorsement in the race, Trump declined to choose between two of the three front-runners in the primary: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Instead, Trump gave his support to both of them.

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Schmitt, who has won two statewide elections in Missouri — for treasurer and later for attorney general — has made headlines over the past year and a half, filing numerous lawsuits against President Biden's administration. He has topped the latest surveys in the race.

Greitens, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who left office in 2018 amid multiple controversies, was once the clear front-runner in the primary race, but for months has been fighting allegations from his ex-wife that he abused her and their child. Greitens denies the claims.

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There is a long list of Republicans who fear that Greitens' political baggage could put what should be a relatively safe GOP seat in jeopardy come November. An anti-Greitens super PAC has spent more than $6 million this summer to run ads targeting the former governor.

The two Erics, along with Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional District in the predominantly rural west-central part of the state, top a field of over 20 Missouri Republicans vying for the party’s Senate nomination, in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.

Among the others in the Republican race are Rep. Billy Long in the state’s 7th Congressional District in southwest Missouri, and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who, along with his wife, grabbed national headlines during the summer of 2020 for holding guns outside their home to ward off Black Lives Matter protesters.

The winner of Tuesday's GOP primary will likely face off in November against either Trudy Busch Valentine, a philanthropist and beer family heiress, or Lucas Kunce, a former U.S. Marine who is running an aggressive populist-style campaign and who landed the endorsement of progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday. The two candidates are the polling front-runners in a crowded field of 11 Democratic contenders.

Missouri was once a competitive state but has trended Republican in recent decades. The winner of the GOP Senate primary will be considered the favorite in November’s general election.

Arizona

Trump and Pence are at odds in the GOP gubernatorial primary in the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. 

The former president is backing former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who is a strong supporter of Trump’s repeated and unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to President Biden was due to massive voter fraud. 

Pence, along with Ducey, endorsed real estate developer and Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson. Trump and Pence were both in Arizona on the same day a week and a half ago, headlining competing campaign events.

Lake and Taylor Robson are the two front-runners in the GOP primary, with the winner likely facing off in November with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is the leading contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the one-time red state that has become a top general election battleground between the two major parties.

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Trump, at his rally in Prescott Valley, Arizona — about 90 miles north of Phoenix — also showcased his support for venture capitalist Blake Masters in the state’s GOP Senate primary. Masters’ bid has also been backed and heavily supported by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, his former boss. The other top contenders in the race include businessman Jim Lamon, who's pumped millions of his own money behind his bid; Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich; and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, who until last year served as adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard.

The winner of the primary will face off in the general election with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, whom the GOP views as one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents running for re-election this year.

Michigan 

Trump headlined a primary eve tele-rally for conservative commentator and former online news host Tudor Dixon, the gubernatorial candidate in Michigan he endorsed on Friday after new polls indicated her growing lead in the Republican nomination contest.

Among the other top competitors in the race to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November are businessman Kevin Rinke, a former owner of the Rinke Automotive Group, one of the nation’s oldest car dealership groups; chiropractor Garrett Soldano, who helped lead a ballot drive to repeal the law Whitmer used to issue COVID-19 restrictions; real estate broker Ryan Kelley, who was charged in connection to Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; and retired Pastor Ralph Rebandt.

The GOP primary field shrank in early June after several candidates, including former Detroit police chief James Craig, were booted from the ballot for alleged fraudulent signatures. The shrinking of the field benefited Dixon, as did plenty of support from Michigan’s wealthy DeVos family, which includes former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

The Democratic Governors Association, as it has done in GOP gubernatorial primaries earlier this year in Maryland, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, is meddling.

Put Michigan First, a Democratic group that is affiliated with the DGA and supporting Whitmer, spent big bucks to run ads targeting her over police funding and claiming her plans would result in the state being "less safe" with "less cops on the street."

The DGA is not the only pro-Democratic group that’s jumping into a GOP primary in Michigan.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ re-election arm, spent six-figures to try and weaken GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan — one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Trump — by pumping up John Gibbs, the Trump-backed candidate challenging Meijer.

Meijer, an Iraq War veteran who was elected to Congress in 2020, has been targeted by Trump over his impeachment vote. The former president endorsed Gibbs, a former software developer who served in the Trump administration as an acting assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Gibbs is also a supporter of Trump’s repeated unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" due to "massive voter fraud." 

Meijer represents Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, on the western side of the state’s lower peninsula, which the DCCC views as a competitive seat in November’s midterm elections. The latest Fox News Power Rankings rate the district as Lean Republican. House Democrats are hoping to hold onto their razor-thin majority in the chamber in the midterms, and they see Gibbs as a weaker general election candidate than Meijer.

Washington State

Meijer is not the only House Republican on the ballot on Tuesday who voted to impeach Trump.

Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington State are facing multiple primary challengers — including candidates backed by Trump. 

The former president last year backed Army Special Forces veteran Joe Kent as he targeted Buetler in Washington’s third Congressional District, in the southwestern corner of the state. He endorsed former police chief Loren Culp to take Newhouse in the 4th Congressional District, which covers a large swath of the central part of the state.

Washington conducts what is known as a jungle primary, in which the top two vote-getters — regardless of party affiliation — advance to the general election.

Six of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the deadly attack on the Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory are running for re-election this year. 

One of them — Rep. David Valadao of California — was not targeted by Trump. Valadao in June won a spot in November’s general election, as he was one of the top two finishers in California’s nonpartisan primaries. Another — Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina — lost his bid for renomination in the GOP primary in June to a Trump-endorsed and heavily supported challenger. 

The most well-known of the House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump — Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — is facing multiple primary challengers, including a Trump-backed candidate, in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 primary.

Kansas

Voters in Kansas will be the first since the blockbuster Supreme Court ruling to weigh in on an abortion ballot measure, as they consider a state constitutional amendment on abortion access. The ballot measure aims to overturn a state Supreme Court decision from three years ago that ruled that the Kansas constitution protected abortion rights. If the measure passes, it would give the state legislature greater control over dictating abortion access.

Since Kansas is the first state to weigh in on the issue since the June high court decision, it is grabbing national attention as a bellwether in the state-level fights over legalized abortion.

What else we’re watching

Arizona’s GOP primary for secretary of state is in the national spotlight, as state Rep. Mark Finchem is one of the front-runners in the four-candidate field. Finchem, who is backed by the former president, is a strong supporter of Trump’s unsubstantiated 2020 election fraud claims. If he captures the Republican nomination and wins November’s general election, Finchem will become the top election official in a state where Biden narrowly edged Trump two years ago and a likely key battleground in the 2024 presidential contest.

It is member versus member in the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, in the northwestern suburbs of Detroit, where Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens are facing off. Millions of out-of-state money have poured into the race, and two progressive champions — Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have endorsed Levin.

In Missouri’s St. Louis-centric 1st Congressional District, first-term Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, one of the newest members of the "Squad," is facing multiple primary challengers. The leading contender, state Sen. Steve Roberts, has repeatedly criticized Bush for her calls to defund the police.

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