Why Peter Meijer and why now? Senate hopeful has unifying vision


Does Peter Meijer always buy his groceries at Meijer, the supermarket his grandfather Hendrik founded back in 1934?

The answer is yes ... for the most part. On occasion, he stops into D&W, Family Fare or another West Michigan grocery store. He’s got to see what the competition is doing. Otherwise, he’s loyal to the family brand.

It’s probably not the question the 35-year-old Iraq  veteran was expecting when he showed up to the MIRS weekly podcast, but amid 21 media interviews the day of his U.S. Senate announcement, the curveball was a welcome change of pace.

Every interviewer brought up his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the angry Jan. 6 mob at the U.S. Capitol. He regretted having to make that vote, but having lived through it, he’d do it again.

The other common question to Meijer was, “Why?”

The logistics expert doesn’t need to hold public office again after Trump successfully recruited a put-up candidate to take him out in the race for the U.S. House District 3 seat last year. The Democrats stealthily supported the effort because they bet that beating someone who believed unproven claims of election fraud cost Trump the 2020 election (John Gibbs) would be a piece of cake.

It was.

For Michigan’s 2024 open U.S. Senate seat, the National Republican Senatorial Committee already has its star candidate in Mike Rogers. They envision the former FBI special agent and U.S. Army officer as the perfect counterbalance to the Democratic establishment’s preferred candidate, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

So, at a time when former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and six other longshot, ultra-conservative or MAGA candidates are also vying for the nomination, why would Meijer jump into the race and potentially screw it up for Republicans?

Rogers and Meijer will be competing for the same Trump-adverse, mainstream Republican voter who values national security over all else. Neither Rogers nor Meijer will claim the 2020 election was stolen, embrace religious undertones, dive into social issues or use the noun “patriot” in their material.

They also aren’t in line for a Trump endorsement. In fact, to be fair, Trump is wisely staying away from meddling in too many other 2024 campaigns. Last year’s final congressional record for Trump was 10 wins and 11 losses. He had a 1-to-11 record in Democratic-leaning district races or “toss ups,” according to Politico.

National Republicans know that only a landslide can deliver Michigan if anyone other than Rogers or Meijer is the nominee.

So, again, why Meijer? Rogers already has his 15,000 signatures and $1 million in the bank.

The answer is that Meijer believes he has a critical message of unity and acceptance to deliver.

Republicans who embrace Trump and Republicans who are (at best) skeptical about Trump need to get over each other. They need to realize that the politics of division has only resulted in heavy losses for Michigan Republicans in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Republicans have control of nothing in state government at the moment.

Nothing. Only 10 years ago, they had everything.

Yes, Meijer felt Trump deserved to be impeached for his Jan. 6 antics. Regardless, given the choice between Trump and President Joe Biden in 2024, he picks Trump. In his opinion, Biden has committed far worse crimes than Trump.

He doesn’t believe the former president should be kicked off the ballot anywhere.

Meijer is finding places of agreement with fellow Republicans.

Instead of cutting each other off based on disagreements, Meijer wants Republicans to respect the opinions of other Republicans. All of them need to work together to influence the state’s growing number of independents if they’re going to have more success.

Clearly, he’d prefer to win this Senate race, but the new father won’t be devastated personally, financially or professionally if he doesn’t.

If his campaign and his message can build some bridges, bring Republicans out of their deep hole and win some elections, the race would be worth it.

Meijer 2024 is happening because he, too, is loyal to another brand: the Republican brand.

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at melinnky@gmail.com.)


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