Meijer challenger Gibbs to hold fundraiser at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Republican John Gibbs, who is challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, is holding a fundraiser Wednesday at former President Donald Trump's club at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, his campaign said.

At the fundraiser, Gibbs, 42, of Byron Center and his donors will get to meet with Trump, who has endorsed Gibbs, according to Gibbs' campaign.

Republican John Gibbs is running for Congress in Michigan's 3rd District

Gibbs has targeted Meijer, an Iraq War veteran and freshman lawmaker from Grand Rapids Township, following Meijer's vote for Trump's impeachment last year. Gibbs, who grew up in Lansing, is a former Housing and Urban Development official in the Trump administration. This is his first run for public office.

Meijer has far outpaced Gibbs in fundraising, ending last year with $1.2 million in cash reserves to Gibbs' $83,246, according to disclosure reports. 

Organizers expect 250 attendees at the Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, including Detroit native Dr. Ben Carson, said Gibbs spokeswoman AnneMarie Schieber. Tickets range in price from $1,000 to $5,800, she said.

The fundraiser comes ahead of Trump's planned rally Saturday in Washington Township which will be his first visit to Michigan since the night before the November 2020 presidential election.

The Trump rally comes three weeks before the state's GOP nominating convention on April 23. A Trump spokeswoman said guest speakers joining Trump on stage Saturday would be Matt DePerno, a candidate for Michigan attorney general, and Kristina Karamo, a candidate for Michigan secretary of state.

Trump has endorsed both as he's continued to repeat false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Trump lost Michigan to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points in 2020 — a result upheld by courts and a months-long investigation by the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee.

Rep. Peter Meijer

In an interview last month, Gibbs said he still has questions about the 2020 election and wouldn't say that Biden was freely and fairly elected president. He cited numbers that were "a bit funny" in bellwether counties and noted Trump got more votes nationally in 2020 than he did in 2016. 

Gibbs said he supports measures such as voter identification, "reasonable" controls on mailing absentee ballot applications and signature verification "to shore up people's confidence in the system and make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Gibbs was also with Trump last month at the Mar-a-Lago club to attend a forum for congressional candidates that Trump has endorsed, he said. That event was a fundraiser not for the candidates but for Trump's super political action committee, Make America Great Again, Again!

Gibbs' campaign said this week he has collected enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary and intends to submit the petitions by the April 19 deadline.

mburke@detroitnews.com