At least five Republican picks for the House aligned with Trump in perceptibly competitive districts lost this week.
J.R. Majewski, one of the contenders who saw defeat, faced questions during the campaign about the truth of his service in the military, which he was found to have evidently misrepresented. His bid received support from high-profile figures in the GOP, including Steve Bannon, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Trump himself, who hosted the candidate at a rally in Youngstown, which is an Ohio locale. A reporter from the state visiting the Youngstown rally found attendees, including individuals hailing from outside Ohio, “politely uninterested in the remainder of the speakers” beyond the past president himself, as they explained the scene. Attendees apparently weren’t particularly enthusiastic. “About an hour into the speech, as Trump began plugging his slate of endorsed candidates, a slow, steady stream of attendees started heading for the exits,” according to the same report. None of these details suggest a rally that was particularly productive in terms of actually boosting the chosen candidates.
Now, Majewski is down by 13 percent in early Wednesday totals. Another of the defeated candidates behind whom Trump threw his weight was also in Ohio: Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who challenged Democratic candidate Emilia Sykes for an open seat in the state’s 13th District. The defeated Republican was “a former Miss Ohio USA who co-chaired the Women for Trump national coalition in 2020,” The New York Times noted. In contrast, Sykes has a background in the state legislature, and she was leading by over five percent on Wednesday. Others on the Trump slate for Congress who faltered this week include Jim Bognet in Pennsylvania, Bo Hines in North Carolina, and John Gibbs in Michigan. Gibbs was hoping to take over the redrawn seat currently occupied by Rep. Peter Meijer (R), who voted for Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol riot early last year.
Gibbs defeated Meijer in a primary — specifically tying his candidacy to outrage over Meijer’s impeachment vote, but he finished behind Democrat Hillary Scholten by 13 percent. Scholten “will become the first Democrat to represent Grand Rapids in Congress since 1977,” a news source in the state shared, although the new boundaries of the district imposed following the last census boosted Democratic chances. Democrats in Michigan flipped both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since the early 1980s, giving the party unified control of the state’s executive and legislative branches once the results are finalized. (Gretchen Whitmer also won re-election.) Democrats also flipped the state House in Pennsylvania, adding another significant win to a night that went better than some observers may have anticipated. Abortion access and the handling of elections are among the critical policy areas where a lot could be decided at the state level.