Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

A speaker addresses Republican Party delegates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in early March. (photo: Nick Hagen/ProPublica)

Standing in a cafe decorated with tiny American flags and antique cabinets as big as bodyguards, Peter Meijer paused as he considered what to say to the man in the “Stand for God” shirt who had just called for his bodily harm.

It was a snowy morning in February. Meijer was the keynote speaker at a coffee-and-donuts meeting hosted by the Republican Party chapter in Kent County, Michigan, the most populous county on the west side of the state. Dressed in a candidate-casual uniform of jeans, a flannel shirt and an outdoorsy blazer, Meijer was seeking the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, a race that could determine control of Congress’s upper chamber, in a state that could decide the presidential election. If Republicans wanted to win in November, Meijer told the 40-odd people in attendance, they needed to move on from the past and focus on their shared enemy.

“Is there anyone who thought that Jan. 6th was good for the Republican Party?” he asked. “Did it help us win in 2022?”

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