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Meijer stumps in Mohawk

GOP US Senate candidate seeks Stabenow’s seat

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette U.S. Senate candidate Peter Meijer, right, talks with State Rep. Greg Markkanen, left, and Meijer senior advisor Scott Greenlee during a stop at Slim’s Cafe in Mohawk Saturday.

MOHAWK — U.S. Senate candidate Peter Meijer stopped in Keweenaw County Saturday as part of his tour of the Upper Peninsula.

Meijer is running as a Republican candidate for the seat currently held by Debbie Stabenow, who is not running for re-election. He previously served a term in the U.S. House representing Michigan’s 3rd District in the Grand Rapids area.

He also touted his status as an Iraq War veteran and a fourth-generation Michigander.

Meijer said he sees the economy as the biggest issue in the election, with inflation, high energy prices and high interest rates. He is also running to address what he sees as a lack of leadership in the country.

“A lot of it’s going to come down to folks who aren’t able to be bought, who are not just going to to any party line and fall in line, but are willing to upset the status quo, willing to challenge convention,” he said.

Meijer gained a national profile after becoming one of only 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump in 2021 for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Upon declaring his Senate candidacy in November, he pledged to support the Republican nominee for president no matter who it is.

He reiterated that statement Saturday, a day after Trump was found guilty of fraud in a New York civil case. Trump was hit with $355 million in penalties and barred from operating a business in New York for three years.

“I’m planning on supporting the Republican nominee,” he said. “I’m not really out there working on what hypothetical would be a bridge too far.”

He said he wanted to spend a bit more time looking at the legal cases against Trump, but said criminally prosecuting a former president sets a dangerous precedent. Trump has also been indicted in four criminal cases.

“Nobody should be above the law, but also the amount of scrutiny somebody can be under can amount to, in a sense, selective prosecution or harassment,” he said, singling out an upcoming New York criminal trial over Trump’s alleged payments of hush money in advance of the 2016 election.

He anticipated a good working relationship with Trump if both are elected, saying “there’s very few places where we don’t see eye to eye.”

On the policy front, Meijer would like to see more power delegated back down from the federal level to the states. Asked where he would like to see that happen, he cited areas where both parties have roughly the same goal but different ideas of how to get there.

“I think one of the benefits of having many states trying different approaches is that you avoid a ‘one size fits all,’ avoid putting all eggs in one basket,” he said. “Think of our healthcare debates: We have gone nowhere in terms of increasing quality and decreasing costs or increasing accessibility, because it’s all a rhetorical exercise in Washington, rather than letting states choose and demonstrate what systems work best for themselves.”

Along with reducing deficit spending, Meijer would also like to see policies tailored to benefit Michigan, such as easing the way for more copper mining, which he said would help make the country less dependent on China for resources. The state’s timber industry is also important for providing new building materials, such as cross-laminated timber, he said.

His preferred method of assistance is by waiving some elements of regulations such as the National Environmental Protection Act of 1970, which he said had hampered even environmentally beneficial projects.

“Especially when you’re talking about mining, you need to make sure you don’t have water pollution,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that obviously are positive environmental protection regulations, but you also need to make sure that mining can be feasible, because the alternative is artisanal mining in the Congo with massive human rights violations, or environmentally disastrous mining in China.”

Energy independence is a key part of Meijer’s goal of a “Second Great American Century.” He said energy should be reliable and affordable, with clean as a secondary consideration once the other two have been met. Nuclear power could satisfy all three parts, he said.

“Yesterday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first new reactor design in the US in 50 years,” he said. “So that’s it’s exciting, but it’s a depressing fact that took 50 years for them to do so.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a number of states, including Michigan, passed laws codifying access to abortion. Trump has signaled he would support a national ban on abortions after 16 weeks.

Meijer was against the idea of national legislation, saying the Dobbs ruling had sent the issue back to the states. In Michigan, a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution protected abortions at all stages of pregnancy. It does allow the state to regulate abortion care after fetal viability, though it will not block abortions a provider declares necessary for the mother’s life or health.

“Let’s be realistic: there’s no prospect of federal legislation,” Meijer said. “In Michigan, we went from a policy I didn’t see a lot of people on the left complaining about — around 22 weeks — to now no limits, no restrictions. We’re not just one of the most progressive and kind of pro-abortion states in the U.S., but really one of the most in the world. But that is going to be something you have to address at the state level.”

The Senate recently voted for a $95.3 billion foreign-aid package with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and humanitarian aid in Gaza and other regions.

At the request of House Republicans, the bill had originally been combined with border security legislation, which Meijer said had been “incredibly dumb.” He laid the blame for the situation on the Biden administration, which he said had downplayed any concerns about the border as racist fearmongering.

If Biden returned to Obama-era border policies, it would fix the immediate situation without requiring legislative action, Meijer said.

“They came into office and said, ‘Everything Trump did was bad,’ they reversed everything on day one,” he said. “And that’s when you saw numbers start to spike. So I think the inherent problem with the border and the need to secure it lies entirely at Biden’s feet. And until you address that, all of the other things we need to do to reduce the broader issues are just window dressing.”

Regarding foreign aid, Meijer said it’s in the U.S. and Western interest to prevent Russia from invading and seizing neighboring states. He said aid must be “sensible” and “efficient,” using an example of America sending armored vehicles that would have otherwise been scrapped. He also faulted the Biden administration for poor communication of what the aid entails, or of its long-term strategy.

“This administration needs to view Congress as partners, and they need to have an open and honest conversation with the American people about what people are and aren’t willing to do, rather than these kind of open-ended promises which are unrealistic, and I think wrongheaded,” he said.

So far, 11 other candidates have filed for the Republican primary, most notably former Congressman Mike Rogers and businessman Sandy Pensler. Meijer said he would likely have similar policy views as the other major Republican candidates, but said “a new generation of leadership” is required to take on the root causes behind the nation’s issues.

“I’m running because I sincerely care, because I am p—- off and dissatisfied with the status quo, but also the temptation can be just to scream and shout at a brick wall, and that’s not going to change anything,” he said.

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