In one of the year’s more notable electoral controversies, Democratic officials repeatedly intervened in Republican primaries this year, bolstering support for right-wing radicals. The strategy was unsubtle: Democrats hoped to derail more electable GOP candidates and incumbents, helping GOP extremists who’d repel mainstream voters.
One of the more provocative examples of the tactic was seen in Michigan, where Rep. Peter Meijer — one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year — faced a far-right challenge from John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official with a history of promoting inflammatory conspiracy theories.
Democrats assumed Meijer would win re-election if he got past the primary, so the party boosted the fringe election denier. It worked: The challenger narrowly prevailed.
And this week, we were reminded of why Democrats wanted to see Gibbs’ name on the ballot. The Detroit News reported:
John Gibbs, the GOP candidate running for the U.S. House in west Michigan’s 3rd District, authored a website in college that argued women should not vote or work outside the home. Gibbs, 43, started a “think tank” called the Society for the Critique of Feminism, hosted on his personal web page in 2000 and 2001 while attending Stanford University, CNN first reported Wednesday. On the archived site, Gibbs argued women’s suffrage contributed to larger government and increased spending.
It gets worse from there. As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones also noted, “The archived site shows Gibbs also challenged claims women have been historically oppressed; the idea that a patriarchal society is wrong; and the idea of women serving in combat, just to name a few. He also claimed men are smarter than women.”
I can almost hear strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee saying to themselves, “Told you so.”
Naturally, the revelations caused a stir, and Gibbs felt the need to respond. Yesterday, the Michigan Republican issued a statement in which he explained that he published ugly beliefs about women in order to “provoke the left on campus.”
The candidate added, “Of course, I believe that women should vote and work.”
That is, of course, the correct position, but as a rule, it’s a bad sign when a congressional candidate — in 2022 — feels the need to clarify that he’s not against women’s suffrage.