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Michigan Republicans line up to keep Justin Amash's seat in the party

Simone Pathé, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Amash won't be getting any more money from the DeVos family either. A group of disaffected GOP strategists has formed their own super PAC called Country Over Party to defend Amash. But it's unclear how much they'll have to spend on the race or how resonant their message will be in a district where Republicans still support the president.

Besides not having any official party support, Amash will be at a disadvantage on the general election ballot, where supporters of the straight Republican ticket can check one box to vote for the party's entire slate of candidates. History is not on Amash's side either: Just four independents have been elected to the House.

A handful of Republicans are running in the Aug. 4 primary, but it's mostly become a three-way race that will test the party's appetite for electing a young military veteran from a wealthy local family, a female state legislator or a self-proclaimed Trump loyalist.

Army veteran Peter Meijer is regarded as the frontrunner in the race because of his last name -- his family owns the ubiquitous Meijer grocery store chain -- and the fortune that comes with that. He loaned his campaign about a quarter of the $410,000 he raised in the third quarter.

"He's got a great story and he's got money to tell the story," said former Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox, adding, "Peter doesn't come across as some rich punk."

Cox and other Republicans in the state also highlight state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, who won a state representative seat in 2018 to replace her cousin, who has the same last name. Her family owns restaurants and dry cleaners in the district. The only woman in the race, she hasn't yet secured an endorsement from any of the major groups dedicated to electing GOP women, but is on their radar.


"Anytime there's one woman running in a crowded field it gives her a couple points advantage," Anuzis said. "It's probably helpful but not determinative."

Afendoulis and Meijer are on the National Republican Congressional Committee's list of "On the Radar" candidates.

Businessman Joel Langlois, who's touting his ownership of an arena that has held events for Trump, has the endorsement of Trump's 2016 Michigan director and has poured significant personal resources into his campaign.

Trump support has been a litmus test in primaries in safe GOP House seats across the country since 2017, and it's already animating attacks in this district.


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