Democrats faceda backlash Wednesday — including from within their own ranks — after inserting themselves into a GOP primary in western Michigan, helping a far-right candidate who has embraced false claims about the 2020 election to topple a Republican who had voted to impeachDonald Trump.
Democrats this year have tried to interfere in multiple GOP primaries, using ads that appear to be attacks on more extreme candidates as a way to subtly promote those contenders. The idea is to line up opponents who the Democrats believe to be more easily beatable in the general election.
But Tuesday’s vote was the first in which the closeness of the outcome — Trump-endorsed challenger John Gibbs won with 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns — suggested that the Democrats’ meddling may have tipped the results.
Now, Democrats will see whether their high-stakes gambit to take out Rep. Peter Meijer will win them the seat in November. Regardless of what happens, critics say theattempt to boost Gibbs is reckless and undermines Democrats’ argument that they are the party upholding democracy.
“It’s cynical and dangerous,” said Richard Hasen, a UCLA law professor and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project. “We know that the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party is doing a lot to undermine people’s confidence in the fairness and integrity of elections. The idea that Democrats would be willing to gamble on electing more of these people because they think they’ll be easier to beat in the general election really is playing with fire.”…
“Watching this unraveling inside my party has been utterly bewildering,” Meijer wrote. “The only thing that has been more nauseating has been the capacity of my Democratic colleagues to sell out any pretense of principle for political expediency — at once decrying the downfall of democracy while rationalizing the use of their hard-raised dollars to prop up the supposed object of their fears.”
Hasen, the UCLA law professor, echoed that sentiment.
“Democracy cannot be sustained by just having one party believing in it and helping to purge the other party of democracy-supporting members,” he said.