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Meijer’s Defeat Shows Republican Intolerance for Trump’s Antagonists


WASHINGTON — The defeat on Tuesday of Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan, the young conservative scion of a supermarket empire who voted to question President Donald J. Trump, was one other sign that the party’s conservative core is bent on casting out those that have dared to interrupt with Mr. Trump, who has launched into a revenge tour aimed toward punishing his adversaries.

Mr. Meijer was defeated by a far-right challenger endorsed by Mr. Trump, becoming the second of 10 Republicans who broke with the party to back impeachment to be ousted in a G.O.P. primary.

Republican voters within the Grand Rapids-based district rejected Mr. Meijer in favor of John Gibbs, a former official on the Department of Housing and Urban Development with a history of firing off inflammatory, conspiratorial tweets. He earned the previous president’s backing after Mr. Meijer supported impeaching Mr. Trump for inciting an revolt on Jan. 6, 2021, calling him “unfit for office.”

With Mr. Meijer’s loss, greater than half of the Republicans who voted to question Mr. Trump — not less than six of the ten — is not going to return to Congress next 12 months. His defeat underscored the continuing appetite amongst right-wing voters who form the party’s base to force out those that defied the previous president.

Two other Republicans who voted to question Mr. Trump — Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse — were also facing challenges on Tuesday from Trump-endorsed opponents.

As of early Wednesday morning, each Ms. Herrera Beutler and Mr. Newhouse seemed to be faring higher, aided partially by an open primary system and a crowded field of challengers. But there have been many ballots left outstanding.

In the times after the Jan. 6 attack, Republicans alarmed by the violence, including Mr. Meijer, hoped that impeaching Mr. Trump would purge him from the party. As an alternative, they’ve been those to be marginalized and expelled from the G.O.P. ranks in Congress, as primary voters favor those that have adopted Mr. Trump’s playbook of attacks fueled by cultural grievances and conspiracy theories.

4 Republicans, most of them squeezed by unfavorably redrawn districts, decided to retire somewhat than run for re-election. Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina was defeated in June by a Trump-endorsed primary challenger who called Mr. Rice’s support of impeachment a betrayal. And Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has change into Mr. Trump’s chief antagonist and most vocal critic in Congress because the vice chairwoman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault, is trailing her Trump-endorsed primary opponent significantly in public polls.

The result’s that the already thin ranks of moderate and mainstream conservative Republicans within the House are prone to be even thinner next 12 months, with brash, Trump-styled candidates replacing them. Should they prevail in November, they may help set the tone for a possible G.O.P. majority through which loyalty to Mr. Trump is a driving force.

Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings

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Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out a comprehensive narrative of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Listed here are the major themes which have emerged to this point from eight public hearings:

In one other era, Mr. Meijer would have been considered a poster boy for the long run of the party: a 34-year-old, self-funding conservative military veteran who served in Iraq and has espoused a hawkish foreign policy, even going to this point as to defy the Biden administration by secretly flying to Afghanistan last August to witness evacuation efforts as American troops withdrew.

But on his third day in office, Mr. Meijer was evacuated from the House chamber as a violent mob laid siege to the Capitol. Every week later, he voted to question Mr. Trump and have become one among the more outspoken Republicans warning of the previous president’s corrosive effect on the party.

In an interview days after his vote, Mr. Meijer conceded that he “may thoroughly have” ended his profession in Congress.

“But I believe it’s also vital that we have now elected leaders who should not pondering solely about what’s of their individual self-interest, not what will be politically expedient, but what we really need for the country,” he told ABC.

Mr. Meijer’s premonition proved correct. By 3 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning, he was trailing by nearly 5 percentage points and The Associated Press called the race for Mr. Gibbs.

Still, Mr. Meijer put up a much stronger fight than even a few of his allies in Washington had predicted, with suburban voters in his district turning out in strong support of the incumbent. However it was ultimately not enough to beat Mr. Gibbs’s challenge.

Mr. Gibbs’s nomination will create an uphill battle for Republicans’ attempts to carry the seat. The district was redrawn from one which narrowly voted for Mr. Trump in 2020 — but previously backed Justin Amash, the libertarian former congressman — to 1 that President Biden would have carried by nine percentage points.

Mr. Gibbs, in 2016, spread groundless claims on Twitter that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman took part in a “satanic ritual” — one among the central tenets of QAnon, the false pro-Trump conspiracy theory. CNN first reported the posts.

Democrats are so bullish on their probabilities at retaking the district that they poured $425,000 into an promoting campaign bolstering Mr. Gibbs in a widely maligned effort at electoral engineering.

The contrast between the 2 candidates could hardly have been starker. While Mr. Meijer voted to certify the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Gibbs has actively promoted conspiracy theories claiming to indicate that Mr. Trump was the winner.

Mr. Gibbs said in an April interview that it was “almost definitely mathematically unattainable” for Mr. Trump to have lost in 2020.

Mr. Meijer’s short time in Congress vividly illustrated the nightmarish consequences — each personally and on the ballot box — which have historically met those that crossed Mr. Trump and which have kept so a lot of his Republican colleagues from defying the previous president.

After Mr. Meijer voted to question Mr. Trump, he spoke openly of his “assumption that individuals will attempt to kill” him and the nine other Republicans who voted to charge the previous president with high crimes and misdemeanors. He sought out body armor to guard himself.

Now, after only one term, Republican voters have forged him out.

“A man who’s on our team should vote with our team,” a voter said on the polls in Kent County on Tuesday, declining to discover himself but saying he had backed Mr. Gibbs.

In Washington State, neither Ms. Herrera Beutler nor Mr. Newhouse has been as outspoken as Mr. Meijer. They’ve largely kept low profiles and declined to comment on the far-right flank of their party that they condemned in the times after Jan. 6.

Still, Ms. Herrera Beutler drew attention briefly last 12 months toward the top of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, when she confirmed in a public statement that Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, had relayed a phone call he had with Mr. Trump on Jan. 6 through which Mr. Trump sided with the rioters.

Each she and Mr. Newhouse were running in crowded open primaries. In those races, all candidates from every party are listed on the identical ballot, with the highest two vote-getters facing off in the overall election no matter party affiliation.

That system, which favors candidates who’re more inclined toward compromise and consensus, could function a lifeboat for the duo.

Each were attempting to fend off Trump-backed challengers who ran lower than sterling campaigns, and Mr. Trump’s endorsements did not clear the fields in either race.

The previous president’s anointed candidates were Joe Kent, an Army Special Forces veteran who’s prolific on social media and conservative talk shows, who was facing off against Ms. Herrera Beutler, and Loren Culp, a former police chief and writer, who was difficult Mr. Newhouse in a deeply red district.

Mr. Kent has campaigned as a “Stop the Steal”-style candidate and suggested baselessly that an otherwise peaceful crowd on Jan. 6 was infiltrated by so-called deep state agents. Mr. Culp, who unsuccessfully ran for governor against Jay Inslee, a Democrat, in 2020, refused to concede that election, claiming that there was widespread fraud.

Each Mr. Kent and Mr. Culp were running third of their districts within the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Sam Easter contributed reporting from Kent County, Mich.

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