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DCCC Spending Half a Million Dollars to Meddle in GOP Primary?

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"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending nearly half a million dollars to air ads boosting Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who voted to impeach Trump last year."

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In late July 2022, posts on social media asserted that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) allocated “nearly half a million dollars to air ads boosting Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who voted to impeach Trump”:

In addition to tweets, posts about the purported DCCC strategy appeared on Reddit:

Democrats boost right-wing challenger to GOP Trump foe Peter Meijer from moderatepolitics

A July 25 2022 article about the strategy and the Michigan primary validated the claims. It also suggested the underlying goal was to simplify “flipping” the district’s seat in the November 2022 midterm elections:

Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, was already facing a brutal primary next Tuesday [August 2 2022] — and now Democrats are trying to twist the knife.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed a TV ad buy in the Grand Rapids market on Monday morning [July 25 2022] to meddle in the final days of Meijer’s (R-Mich.) primary. His Western Michigan district is one of the party’s top offensive targets this election, and Democratic strategists believe if they can boost Meijer’s pro-Trump challenger to victory next week, they will have an easier time this fall [of 2022] trying to flip a seat President Joe Biden carried by nine points in 2020.

Meijer is locked in a battle for survival with John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who received an endorsement from the former president. The incumbent has vastly outspent his opponent: Meijer dropped $2.1 million on the campaign as of mid-July [2022], compared to Gibbs’ $340,000.

A July 25 2022 Axios piece described the DCCC’s spending on an advertisement promoting Gibbs over Meijer in Michigan ahead of the August 2022 primary:

A new TV ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee portrays Republican John Gibbs as the true pro-Trump conservative in his effort to unseat Republican Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) — aligning with Gibbs’ own campaign messaging … A DCCC spokesperson told Axios it plans to spend $425,000 to air the ad in the Grand Rapids market beginning Tuesday [August 2 2022].

[…]

The Meijer-Gibbs contest is just the latest in which Democrats have meddled on behalf of far-right candidates in hopes of securing a more favorable matchup in November [2022].

On July 27 2022, Politico followed up on the story, reporting that House Democrats had expressed that they disapproved of the strategy:

A growing number of House Democrats are seething at their own campaign arm for meddling in a GOP primary to promote a pro-Trump election conspiracy theorist — after months of warning that such candidates were a threat to democracy.

In public statements, private chats and complaints taken directly to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic members are aghast that the committee is spending nearly half a million dollars to air ads boosting Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who voted to impeach Trump last year [2021].

Politico further reported that the “DCCC’s decision to spend $425,000 running the ad [in Michigan] significantly escalates the party’s involvement [as] it was funded, in part, from lawmakers’ own membership dues.”

In that story, some Democratic Party lawmakers observed that the strategy had failed spectacularly for Democrats in the 2016 general election:

“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.”

[…]

“It’s very dangerous, I think, in this environment to be propping up candidates like that,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who called it “a terrible idea” and said he has raised his concerns to the DCCC.

“Of course, it could backfire. And that’s part of the reason why I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said. “Not only do I think it sends the wrong message, but it’s substantively risky.”

The broader strategy itself isn’t new: Democratic-aligned groups have spent tens of millions of dollars this year [2022] meddling in GOP primaries to promote more extreme candidates and improve their own general-election odds. The most notable example came in Pennsylvania, where Democrats gave a boost to Doug Mastriano — a GOP hardliner and staunch election denier — before he clinched the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Last week [in July 2022], the Democratic Governors Association helped Trump-endorsed Dan Cox to a GOP primary victory in Maryland.

In late July 2022, social media posts claimed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent (or intended to spend) “nearly half a million dollars” to promote a Republican candidate in an August 2022 primary in Michigan. The claims were accurate, and the strategy was not novel in 2022. The DCCC allocated $425,000 to run advertisements in Michigan, promoting John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer.