LANSING — As 2023 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at all of the chaos so far in the Michigan GOP Senate Showdown. Spoiler alert: it was quite the “bloodbath” that could “fracture the vote” with Republicans attacking each other, “skullduggery and outright deceit,” an “over-zealous intern,” and “deep state” and “George Santos” comparisons.

Here’s a few of the highlights from the Republicans’ “caustic” and “brutal intraparty battle” this year: 

Mike Rogers

  • Rogers ridiculed his opponents for being incapable of the job and alluded they were in over their heads.

Peter Meijer

James Craig

  • James Craig called Rogers’ campaign “unethical” and “foul” for threatening his career and trying to bribe him to stay out of the race.

Sandy Pensler

  • Sandy Pensler made a splash when he jumped into the “crowded” field. Republicans didn’t waste time — creating a Twitter account calling him “liberal Sandy Pensler.”

See for yourself:

Trump ally Caroline Wren:

Trump advisor Adam Veinotte:

Michigan’s Big Show: Rogers: “I think people run for office for all the wrong reasons. Especially the legislative branch… You shouldn’t go there to be famous. And I think what happens when those folks go for the wrong reasons, they end up looking a lot more like George Santos than any statesman that you’ll see.”

WABC Radio: Rogers: “Nobody can walk into the United States Senate other than me, Mike Rogers…”

JR Afternoon: Rogers: “There’s other… candidates in the race for maybe other offices. This is too important…” 

Justin Barclay: When talking about the Senate race and his primary opponents, Rogers alluded they were in over their heads: “This isn’t a prize to have, this isn’t something to put on your mantle, this is serious business…”

Detroit News: Michigan GOP blames ‘intern’ for anti-Peter Meijer tweet

  • The Michigan Republican Party blamed an intern for a social media post Monday that targeted U.S. Senate candidate Peter Meijer, within hours of the former congressman joining a crowded primary race for the GOP’s nomination.
  • “Peter Meijer voted to impeach President Trump. Remember that,” the Michigan Republican Party’s official account on X posted at about 9:45 a.m. Monday.
  • Minutes later, the Michigan Republican Party deleted the message. Then, the party issued a statement, saying it remained “neutral and supportive of all Republican primary candidates.”
  • “Unfortunately, an over-zealous intern posted a negative comment regarding a candidate that does not reflect the position of MIGOP,” the statement said. “This matter has since been dealt with and the post removed. Our sincerest apologies.”
  • Ordinarily, party chairs and the party itself stay out of convention and primary fights to avoid claims of bias and to focus attention on campaigns against Democrats. But the current Michigan GOP chairwoman, Kristina Karamo, has been openly critical of Meijer in the past.

The Hill: Senate GOP campaign arm clashes with Republican Meijer over Michigan Senate bid

  • The Senate GOP’s campaign arm is clashing with former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) over his bid for an open Senate seat in Michigan.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has courted former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) to enter the race, and it quickly sought to throw cold water on Meijer’s bid by saying he couldn’t win a GOP primary or bring out the base to win a general election.
  • “Peter Meijer isn’t viable in a primary election, and there’s worry that if Meijer were nominated, the base would not be enthused in the general election,” NRSC Executive Director Jason Thielman said in a statement.
  • Meijer’s campaign quickly hit back at the NRSC, with his campaign saying in a statement to The Hill: “Not surprised that DC Republicans prefer someone who won’t rock the boat and will do as he’s told. That’s not me.”

Washington Examiner: Peter Meijer says Republican leaders told him Michigan is ‘not winnable’

  • Former Republican Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer said Republicans believe the 2024 Senate race in Michigan cannot be won.
  • “And when I met with them, they said, ‘Michigan is not winnable.’ I was like, ‘OK, then why do you care?’”

West Michigan Weekend: In response to a question about the NRSC’s criticism of him, Meijer responded: “If there’s anyone who understands what motivates and enthuses the base, it’s certainly a bunch of folks sitting in Washington DC poring over polling.” 

The Messenger: Private Power-Player Phone Calls Roil Michigan’s GOP Senate Race: ‘These Things Get Ugly’

  • But opinions – and accusations – starkly diverge otherwise, a sign of the caustic primary contest to come.
  • …Craig accuses Shields of offering him “lucrative or financially beneficial” terms to stay out of the race and said that she also hinted there would be consequences if he jumped in because “these things get ugly.” 
  • Craig’s adviser, August Atencio, said Shields was more direct and menacing with him.
  • “Omg Katie Shields offered Chief money to get out of the race,” Atencio texted a consultant allied with Craig at 2:56 p.m.
  • “Threatened my career,” he wrote with a laughing-crying emoji. “They’re f-cking terrified.”
  • It also suggests what’s in store for Michigan once Craig challenges Rogers: a brutal Republican primary where once-friendly allies are already accusing each other of skullduggery and outright deceit.
  • “This was unethical. It was foul,” Craig told The Messenger. “Now, I wouldn’t call it a bribe. I’m not saying she broke the law. But when I ran for governor [last year] I never experienced anything like this.”

Steve Gruber Show: When asked about the country’s moral decay, Pensler responded, “…They are all, frankly, I think, an outcome of having politicians that are professional politicians. And frankly, a lot of the people that are running in this race, that are doing it for a job.”

Steve Gruber Show: Pensler: “You shouldn’t be running for Senate because you screwed up and you’re out and your business. You’re out, you don’t have anything to do.” 


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