Democrats Divided Over Boosting Pro-Trump Candidates

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to spend $425,000 to air an attack ad on an extreme Trump-endorsed candidate in a primary race featuring Peter Meijer (R-Mi), one of 10 House republicans who voted for impeachment of TFG.

  • The ad portrays portrays Republican John Gibbs as the true pro-Trump conservative, framing Gibbs as “too conservative” for West Michigan, where redistricting has made Meijer’s district highly competitive.
  • The expected Democratic candidate, Hillary Scholten, was previously defeated by Meijer in 2020 by only six points. In West Michigan, this district hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since 1993, but is seen as blue-leaning this fall.

Democrats are divided about “meddling” in GOP primaries by boosting pro-Trump candidates to secure more favorable matchups in the general election.

Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who isn’t seeking re-election, told Axios: “This is bigger than any one candidate or campaign. No one should be promoting election deniers and peddlers of the ‘Big Lie.’ No race is worth compromising your values in that way.”

Elaine Luria (D-Va.), meanwhile, appeared to support Democrats aggressively spotlighting which GOP candidates are election deniers — including those in her own competitive race.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) can see both sides of the argument.

“One can certainly understand an argument that it’s categorically wrong to do anything that would objectively help insurrectionist election deniers. But in the real world of politics, one can also see an argument that if the pro-insurrectionist, election-denier wing of the Republican caucus is already dominant, then it might be worth it to take a small risk that another one of those people would be elected, in return for dramatically increasing the chances that Democrats will be able to hold the House against a pro-insurrectionist, election-denying GOP majority. Jean-Paul Sartre said that in politics we all have dirty hands up to our elbows. Nobody’s pure. And we are in desperate times to defend democratic institutions and practices.”

“I do want to win these races, but it makes me worried,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who recalled that others in her party believed Trump would be the easiest candidate for Democrats to defeat in 2016. “I just really worry about promoting election deniers and this idea that we’re going to be able to control what voters want at the end of the day.”

But the DCCC’s decision to spend $425,000 running the ad significantly escalates the party’s involvement, since it was funded, in part, from lawmakers’ own membership dues. Those members see it as a clear endorsement of the tactic by their own party leaders, even as it remains unclear whether it will work in must-win swing seats this fall, or if it will simply help election-denying Republicans get elected to Congress.

Politico and Axios both carried this story.