GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) hasn't been in Congress a month. He already has a primary challenger. This week, businessman Tom Norton announced he would challenge Meijer in 2022. Norton also ran in the 2020 GOP primary for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District. He came in third.
Norton gave a few reasons for running that all center around Meijer's vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. First, Norton said it was a betrayal of trust.
"He (Meijer) launched an entire congressional campaign in 2019 because Congressman Amash tweeted about impeaching the same, exact president," Norton. "The entire premise is that you're going to work with that president... to go and do the exact thing you launched an entire congressional campaign on, that's where your trust is violated."
But the impeachment to which Norton is referencing was over Trump pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden's son, Hunter. The impeachment for which Meijer voted was over Trump's incitement of a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol to prevent certification of Joe Biden's presidential win. When pressed on that distinction, Norton then said the president never incited a riot.
"He didn't do anything impeachable," Norton said. "He said go and peacefully protest (referring to Trump's January 6th rally)."
Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by little more than 10,000 votes. He lost Michigan in 2020 by 154,000 votes. He also lost Kent County last year, which comprises a broad swath of the Third District. But, Norton feels there's still support for a Trump-aligned candidate like himself.
"With the way they've gone about impeaching him and the way they've gone about silencing him, they've made him a martyr and he's becoming more popular," Norton said.
(Upon leaving office - after being impeached a second time and permanently removed from Twitter and other social media platforms - Trump's approval rating according to 538 was at 38%, one of its lowest points ever.)
Norton also will not say that Joe Biden won the presidency fairly. He pointed to baseless accusations of fraud in Arizona and Michigan. When asked, he at first said that courts should have heard evidence. They did, and in more than 60 cases in several states, complaints were dismissed. Also, attorneys for Trump - like Rudy Giuliani - never argued fraud in court. Norton would only say, "He (Biden) was elected by the constitution by certifying the votes of the states in the Electoral College."
It's a long way out yet. And redistricting is on the way. But Norton says they're gearing up now to raise money and be ready from an organizational standpoint.
"[T]hat way we can launch a full campaign in that new map. We know that we'll be in the same district as Representative Meijer because of how close in proximity we live."
We reached out to Rep. Peter Meijer's team for a response to Tom Norton's challenge. They said, "We are happy to talk about issues around COVID vaccination, economic stimulus, homeland security, and national defense, but an election over 18 months away is not our priority right now.'
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