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WGVU Decision 2022: MI-3 U.S. House of Representatives preview

Hillary Scholten/John Gibbs composite image from campaign websites
Composite by WGVU
Hillary Scholten/John Gibbs composite image from campaign websites

In West Michigan’s redrawn U.S. House 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Hillary Scholten faces off against Republican John Gibbs

Democrat Hillary Scholten is making her second run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

She lost to Republican Peter Meijer in 2020. But Meijer narrowly lost his primary race to John Gibbs, a Trump-endorsed candidate who disagreed with Meijer’s vote to impeach the former president.

The redrawn 3rd district could favor the democrat with new voters entering the equation.

SCHOLTEN: “Out on the lakeshore we’ve got Muskegon and Grand Haven, Democratic bases. We also have Grand Valley State University. A new, energized pool of young people.”

But Gibbs is also excited about the opportunity the new district boundaries provide his campaign.

GIBBS: “I’m very excited about the chance to reach out to those Independents and Democrats. And it’s a great model. I think it’s going to be a great model for the whole country on how to reach across and start to talk with each other.”

On the campaign trial, the candidates are sticking to party themes on the issues.

For Scholten, it’s about protecting a woman’s reproductive rights and the reasons why women might get an abortion.

SCHOLTEN: “The number one reason a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy is because of poverty. That’s no choice at all. We need to do things to elevate the alternative choices. To choose life when women would otherwise want to; increasing access to education, economic opportunities, making adoption more accessible to individuals should they choose.”

John Gibbs says he’s, “100% pro-life in all cases” and believes that life begins at conception. His top issue is the economy - specifically, rising inflation.

GIBBS: “So, we do need to reduce spending. The federal balance sheet is increased by something like 50% over the past couple of years. This is a major problem, and this leads directly to the inflation that we’re having right now. So, we’ve really got to get things back to normal and part of that involves stopping and reducing some of this spending that we have right now.”

Scholten says her family is experiencing sticker shock at the pump and checkout counter, too. But for her lowering inflation is a function of holding companies accountable for price gouging.

In recent weeks, both candidates have been put on the defensive. A campaign attack ad citing the protests that turned violent in Grand Rapids riots after the killing of George Floyd, makes this accusation of Scholten…

CAMPAIGN AD: “She dismissed the destruction and praised the rioters….”

Scholten says the ad is 100% false.

SCHOLTEN: “You don’t have to take my word for it, multiple, independent sources have proven them to be completely false. I made a statement after the riot condemning them, urging people to stop the violence. I was downtown after the riots with members from my church helping to clean up. My opponent John Gibbs was nowhere to be found.”

Gibbs is defending himself against misogynistic remarks he made as a student at Stanford University. CNN uncovered the archived Society of the Critique of Feminism where Gibbs wrote a blog post arguing against a woman’s right to vote. There’s also a reference to the Bible arguing it, “Clearly articulates the idea that women should not teach or maintain positions of power.”

GIBBS: “Look, this was in 1999 when I was 19-years old. We were having discussions on campus with the liberals, and the question was, ‘What does liberty mean?’ Doesn’t liberty mean that a person can choose to work or choose to be at home if they want to? Whether they disagree with even that simple, basic principle premise. So, as a trolling effort as part of the debate I put that out there. It was over-the-top. It was meant to evoke reaction, and it did, and it continued the discussion we were having on campus.”

Gibbs explains he respects women and offers as proof that there are women on his campaign staff.

Both candidates describe the difference between themselves and their opponent as stark.

GIBBS: “Look, are we a country where there’s a male and female or are there 57 genders now? Should you have to pay $7 a gallon for gas or should we have energy independence and low gas prices…We are in just absolute crazy territory right now. So, I think people that realize they want the country we grew up in back. Those kinds of folks are going to vote for me because they know that I represent that.”

SCHOLTEN: “I’m running against someone whose entire existence is based on an agenda and a motive by Donald Trump to implant him here to execute the former President’s agenda and vendetta against our congressman who voted to impeach him. That’s not a platform on which to lead West Michigan forward. He has no roots and connections here in the district to hold him accountable. He is an election denier. A conspiracy theorist.”

Two other candidate’s names appear on the November 8th ballot. They are Libertarian Jamie Lewis and Working Party Candidate, Louis Palus.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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