Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Gibbs upsets Meijer, Stevens and Thanedar win Michigan Congress races

Former Donald Trump administration official John Gibbs receives a call from the former president after edging U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer in the Republican primary in Michigan's 3rd Congressional District. (Twitter photo)
  • U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer lost to former Trump administration official John Gibbs in upset
  • Rep. Haley Stevens defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin in Oakland-based 11th District
  • Incumbent Rep. Rashida Tlaib won her primary, and Shri Thanedar advanced in Detroit-based district

In a major upset, incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids lost his bid for a second term Tuesday to John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who was endorsed by the former president.

As of 6 a.m., with 88.18 precincts reporting, Gibbs led 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent.

Meijer conceded the race early Wednesday morning, and Gibbs acknowledged the victory by posting a photo taking a call from former President Donald Trump congratulating him on the win.

In other congressional races, U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens won in southeast Michigan over fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin, while Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, survived a primary challenge and state Rep. Shri Thanedar won in the Detroit-based 13th Congressional District.

Related:

Gibbs’ victory marks the latest win for Trump loyalists against 10 Republicans who voted to impeach the former president. Meijer had barely taken office for his first term when he did so, and  Gibbs has told Bridge the vote instilled a “sense of betrayal” among west Michigan Republicans.

Three other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, including Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, retired, while two others — Jaime Herrera Butler of Washington and Dan Newhouse of California — survived primaries on Tuesday night.

Gibbs had been significantly outspent by Meijer, who had scores of endorsements from business groups, fellow incumbents and local leaders. Ultimately, it was Meijer’s break from Trump that pushed Gibbs over the edge for many voters.

Meijer previously told Bridge he was comfortable running on his record, noting he would not “violate my conscience, my convictions or my principles” in order to keep the job.

Related: Political winds shifting in west Michigan. Can Peter Meijer survive the storm? 

Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in the November general election, a second-time candidate who views the race as winnable after the redistricting process resulted in a far more competitive district. 

In a major shift from previous congressional maps, most of the county and metropolitan Grand Rapids are now included in the same congressional district as lakeshore communities like Muskegon and Grand Haven. In 2020, President Joe Biden won the region encompassed in the new district by 9 percentage points over former President Donald Trump. 

Liberal groups and Democrats have already started spending in the region, going so far as to drop an attack ad against Gibbs as part of a nationwide effort to boost the chances of pro-Trump challengers they believe could be easier to beat in the general election. 

Dave Wasserman, senior House editor of The Cook Political Report, noted the nonpartisan group’s rating for the district is changing from toss-up to leaning Democratic in the aftermath of Gibbs’ win.

Thanedar wins open Detroit-based district

State Rep. Shri Thanedar came out the winner in an open Democratic primary for the Detroit-based 13th congressional district. 

Unofficial Wayne County election results show Thanedar with 28.27 percent of the vote, defeating eight other candidates for the open seat.

Thanedar, an Indian-American businessman who spent $10 million in 2018 on an unsuccessful bid for governor, loaned himself millions to run for Congress. The next highest fundraiser in the race, state Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, came in second place with 23.46 percent of the vote.

In a statement, Thanedar vowed to “continue the fight against the special interests that seek to divide us and prevent us from achieving the basic rights that we all deserve.” Hollier conceded the election Wednesday morning. 

The district is heavily Democratic and was considered by observers to be the best chance for a Black candidate to represent Detroit. Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield is currently the only Black member of Congress but is retiring at the end of the term.

Other candidates in the race included Portia Roberson, the CEO of the Detroit-based nonprofit Focus: HOPE; former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo; Michael Griffie, a Teach for America-Detroit executive; and John Conyers III, the son of the late congressman.

Related: Can Black candidates win in Michigan’s new districts? It may be a struggle

Stevens ousts Levin

In Michigan’s only incumbent vs. incumbent congressional primary, Rep. Haley Stevens declared victory over fellow Rep. Andy Levin not long after polls closed Tuesday evening. 

As of 6:30 a.m. with nearly all precincts reporting, Stevens, D-Waterford, won with about 60 percent of the vote in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, which stretches across much of southeastern Oakland County and is solidly Democratic.

Stevens posted the message, “I will not let you down.” 

Both Stevens and Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, opted to pass on running in the neighboring 10th district, which contains several southern Macomb County communities that Levin currently represents.

Stevens moved within the boundaries of the new 11th District, and Levin opted not to move into a different district, setting up the incumbent vs. incumbent primary. 

Levin and Stevens each defended their decision to run against each other, expressing their support for the independent redistricting process while stressing that they were the best choice to represent the district.

Stevens far outraised Levin ahead of the race, posting $4.8 million in campaign contributions to Levin’s $2.8 million as of July 31, with more than $3 million of the funds coming from fiercely pro-Israel groups. She also earned the support of outgoing Rep. Lawrence, who is retiring at the end of her current term and represents portions of the new 11th district.

Levin staked out a more progressive stance, leaning hard on his support for organized labor and attacking his opponent for taking large sums from pro-Israel groups. 

Both candidates campaigned hard on their commitment to defending abortion rights, but Stevens also noted her work on behalf of Michigan business and her role in Obama administration’s Auto Rescue Task Force.

Related: Stevens, Levin trade shots over abortion at Michigan congressional debate

Tlaib way ahead

Incumbent Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, is poised to retain a seat in Congress in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, far outpacing challenges from Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, Kelly Garrett and Shanelle Jackson in a heavily Democratic district. 

With just over half of precincts reporting as of 6:30 a.m., Tlaib has 66 percent of the vote. Winfrey, her closest challenger, was in second place with 18 percent.

Tlaib opted to move into the new 12th Congressional District, which covers the western half of Detroit as well as portions of western Wayne County and Oakland County’s Southfield, shortly after sitting Rep. Brenda Lawrence announced she would not seek reelection to Congress.

Tlaib is nationally known as a member of “The Squad” of Democratic progressives and had the support of other progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. 

She raised nearly $2.8 million over the course of the primary, widely outraising her challengers. 

Marlinga wins Democratic primary

Former Macomb County judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga came out the winner in Michigan’s new 10th Congressional District, a seat anchored in southern Macomb County that also includes Rochester and Rochester Hills in Oakland County. 

With 93 percent of precincts reporting as of 6:30 a.m., Marlinga held 48 percent of the vote. Rhonda Powell was in second with 15.8 percent, followed by Angela Rogensues with 14 percent, Huwaida Arraf with 13.1 percent and Henry Yanez with 8.9 percent. 

Related: In redrawn districts, Macomb once again could decide Michigan power balance

Marlinga will go on to face Republican John James, a businessman and third-time candidate for federal office.

The district leans Republican, though observers say it’s possible Democrats could make a play for the seat.

Other notable contests

In several other races throughout the state, incumbents cruised through primaries or did not face a primary challenge, but a few are looking at tough fights to keep their seats come November. 

Incumbent Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Midland; Tim Walberg, R-Jackson; and Lisa McClain, R-Bruce, defeated their primary challengers.  

Five sitting lawmakers — Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, Jack Bergman, R-Acme; Dan Kildee, D-Flint; Bill Huizenga, R-Holland; and Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing — ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primaries. 

Thanks to redistricting, Kildee and Slotkin’s seats are widely viewed as toss-ups come November. 

Kildee will be facing Republican Paul Junge in the 8th Congressional District, which includes the Tri-Cities region as well as Flint. Junge came out the victor in a three-way Republican primary, posting 53.7 percent of the vote with 92 percent of precincts reporting as of 6:30 a.m.

Slotkin is facing a spirited challenge from state Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, in the new Lansing-based 7th Congressional District.

We're not just a news organization, we're also your neighbors

We’ve been there for you with daily Michigan COVID-19 news; reporting on the emergence of the virus, daily numbers with our tracker and dashboard, exploding unemployment, and we finally were able to report on mass vaccine distribution. We report because the news impacts all of us. Will you please support our nonprofit newsroom?

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now