Hours after announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Monday and touting his record of risking his job to do what was right, former U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) was already downplaying his 2021 vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.
In an appearance on WWJ Newsradio in Southfield, Michigan, Meijer said he is firmly committed to backing the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, even if it is Trump.
“I’m a guy who’s going to call balls and strikes. I’m going to say it like I see it. And I’ll say it, Jan. 6 was wrong. That was also one day. We have a lot greater issues that are facing us,” he said. ”When it comes to the former president, I’m going to call balls and strikes. I’ve probably defended him more than I’ve been critical of him.”
Meijer is one of several Republicans running for their party’s 2024 nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The Cook Political Report calls the race competitive and leaning Democratic. Early polls put U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin ahead in both the Democratic primary and in hypothetical general election matchups.
“I want to let you in on a secret: Most politicians are terrified of the media, of saying what they actually think, of proposing things that are big and bold because they’re terrified of losing their jobs,” Meijer says in the three-minute-long spot. “If you know anything about me, you know that I’m not afraid to risk my job.”
After Trump falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, he encouraged his supporters to protest the results at the U.S. Capitol. Many illegally stormed the building, injured 140 police officers, and did $1.5 million worth of damage to the building.
“That was a moment that called for leadership. I was hoping to see the President rapidly try to de-escalate, try to denounce, try to stop the violence from occurring, and he abandoned his post. To me, that was disqualifying,” Meijer told CNN a week after the attack, explaining his vote to charge Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors.
John Gibbs, who served in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under Trump, challenged Meijer in the 2022 Republican primary. Gibbs defeated Meijer but lost the general election to Democrat Hillary Scholten.
Meijer told SiriusXM radio after his primary defeat that he had no regrets about his vote: “I would rather lose office with my character intact than stay reelected having made sacrifices of the soul.”
Despite his otherwise right-wing voting record, Republican leaders did not welcome Meijer to the Senate race.
“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,” Jason Thielman, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s executive director, told Politico on Monday.
The Michigan Republican Party tweeted: “Peter Meijer voted to impeach President Trump. Remember that.” It later deleted the tweet, blaming “an over-zealous intern,” and vowed to stay neutral in the primary.
Meijer filed a court brief on Nov. 3 opposing efforts to keep the former president off the 2024 Michigan ballot. A provision of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars any former public official who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking the oath of office from holding future public positions.
“Voters in Michigan deserve to have the opportunity to support the candidate of their choice, including former President Trump,” Meijer said in a press release. “I filed an amicus brief today to support Mr. Trump being on the ballot because our democracy relies on the ability of voters, not judges or partisan election officials, to determine their leaders.”