Former congressman Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) — one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in 2021 — announced Monday that he is moving forward with a campaign to be the next U.S. senator from Michigan, formally entering a crowded field in the battleground state without the backing of GOP leaders.
“My wife and I prayed hard about this race and how we can best serve our state and our nation,” Meijer said in a statement announcing his run. “We considered every aspect of the campaign and are confident we have the best chance of taking back this seat for the Republicans and fighting hard for a conservative future.”
Meijer’s entrance, however, was panned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — the party arm tasked with electing Republicans to the chamber.
Jason Thielman, the group’s executive director, said in a statement Monday that Meijer is not likely to prevail in a Republican primary.
“Peter Meijer isn’t viable in a primary election, and there’s worry that if Meijer were nominated, the base would not be enthused in the general election,” Thielman said.
By comparison, NRSC Chairman Steve Daines said in September that he was pleased to see former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) enter the Michigan Senate race.
“Mike is the type of candidate who can perform well with suburban Michiganders and be a strong part of the eventual ticket in Michigan,” Daines said at the time.
Meijer, whose family founded the Meijer supermarket chain, is a business analyst and former U.S. Army reservist who served one term in the House. His Senate campaign logo is reminiscent of previous signage on his family’s supermarkets. Meijer said in a statement that the logo “represents my family of whom I’m very proud.”
After he voted to impeach Trump, Meijer was defeated in his 2022 GOP primary by John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who ran with Trump’s support and embraced his false claims of a stolen election. Gibbs was defeated in the general election by Democrat Hillary J. Scholten.
In a new campaign video, Meijer alluded to losing his seat over his impeachment vote.
“I’m running for Senate because we need leaders who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, no matter the risk,” he said. “And if you know anything about me, you know that I’m not afraid to risk my job. I hope to meet you. We’ll see you out there.”
In August, Meijer took an initial step toward launching a Senate campaign by creating an exploratory committee.
Meijer is entering the race to replace Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who announced in January that she intends to retire from the Senate. A Republican hasn’t held a Michigan Senate seat since Stabenow took office in 2001.
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes in a statement called Meijer’s entrance into the Senate race “caustic” and “radioactive.”
“Michigan Republicans’ nasty, chaotic Senate primary is getting even messier,” Barnes said. “Their intra-party fight is guaranteed to leave them with a nominee who is badly damaged and out of step with working families.”
Other Republicans who have entered the race include former Detroit police chief James Craig, State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, lawyer Alexandria Taylor and business executive Michael Hoover.
Among Democrats, moderate Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) has been considered an early front-runner in the nomination race after announcing her candidacy for the Senate seat in February.
The former CIA analyst is seen by many top Democrats as a formidable contender with a proven record of winning in competitive House districts. She won her first election in 2018, motivated like many women that year to seek office in repudiation of Trump. She has positioned herself as a moderate, rejecting positions and rhetoric adopted by the far left while championing Democratic principles such as abortion rights and a ban on assault weapons.
Other Democratic primary candidates include “The Good Doctor” actor Hill Harper, business executive Nasser Beydoun, lawyer Zack Burns, former state representative Leslie Love and Michigan State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh.