This may be the single most disgraceful moment of the midterm campaign to date, and that bar is high. This is a midterm in which Doug Mastriano is a candidate, remember.

Peter Meijer is the 34-year-old congressman from Michigan’s Third District who, on his tenth day in office, cast one of the gutsiest votes ever taken by a member of the House. He voted to impeach Trump, one of 10 in his party to do so and the only freshman of the group. With a long career ahead of him, he committed an act of likely political suicide in the name of principle before his office chair was even warm. And he did so knowing that the man he replaced in Congress, Justin Amash, was himself forced into early retirement because he voted to impeach Trump over his Ukraine “quid pro quo” in 2019.

Nor was that the only gutsy vote he’s taken during his term. Last year he was one of nine Republicans to vote in favor of recommending contempt charges for Steve Bannon after Bannon defied the January 6 committee’s subpoena. He also voted in favor of establishing a January 6 commission — not the Pelosi House committee but the original independent bipartisan commission that Senate Republicans ended up tanking. And although he didn’t vote to censure Paul Gosar last November, he did have plenty to say at the time about just what he thought of Gosar.

He’s the closest thing Democrats have to an anti-Trump ally within the House GOP this side of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And so here’s how they’re thanking him for his independence — by knifing him in the gut with a free ad on behalf of his MAGA-backed challenger, John Gibbs. Watch this.

Democrats have been running primary ads for fringy populist Republicans all year, most notably for Mastriano in Pennsylvania. Sometimes those ads make a gesture towards framing the candidate as “radical” but this one for Gibbs seems to do the opposite, mainstreaming him by noting his work with Michigan legend Ben Carson and noting his support for “patriotic” education. The only hint that the average Republican viewer should be uncomfortable with Gibbs is the suggestion that he’s “too conservative,” as if it’s possible to be such a thing in a modern GOP primary.

Meijer has much more money in the bank than Gibbs does, but Gibbs has two great equalizers. One is Trump, of course. And the other is the Democratic Party’s ad team.

This isn’t the only primary this summer in which Trump and the Democrats have united to try to take down an “electable” Republican who’s not aligned with MAGA, do note.

If Gibbs ends up knocking off Meijer in the primary, I hope he wins the general election by 50 points. That’s what sleazebag Democratic operatives deserve for talking out of both sides of their mouths about how, on the one hand, MAGA candidates are a threat to democracy and how, on the other, Democrats need to help them make it to the general election since they’ll be somewhat easier for Team Blue to beat. Here’s my humble prediction: By the time this election is over, Democrats spending money to promote populist Republicans will be seen as one of the great blunders in modern American political history, particular if recession jitters end up carrying Mastriano and Kari Lake in Arizona to the governor’s office. It’s one of the most cynically repulsive things I’ve seen since since I started writing about elections 16 years ago. And I covered the entire Trump era.

To make matters worse, ad spending on Gibbs’s behalf really might be decisive in MI-3. I’m unaware of any other race in which Dems boosting MAGA candidates was the difference in a GOP primary; Mastriano, for instance, was already well on his way to a comfortable primary win when Democrat Josh Shapiro ran a “too conservative” ad for him in Pennsylvania. But the Meijer/Gibbs race could be close, with Meijer’s financial edge potentially the difference — until Dems started spending their own cash there to help out the challenger, which is more than even Trump has done on Gibbs’s behalf.

Given their antipathy to Trump and the threat he represents, you would think Democrats would want to see at least *one* pro-impeachment Republican win his race simply to show other GOPers that it’s possible to cross the Great MAGA King without sacrificing your career. Meijer stands a chance of pulling that off at a moment when the other nine House Republicans who took the plunge with him last January are likely headed towards retirement. So here come the Democrats to … sabotage his chances of succeeding.

Still, Dems can’t decide whom the local GOP nominates. Only Republicans can do that. And there’s no denying Jonathan Last’s conclusion that some righty commentators prefer to focus on Democrats’ nihilistic tactics because doing so lets them overlook uncomfortable truths about what type of candidates Republican voters prefer.

They need to blame someone for the outcomes they don’t like. But they can’t blame Republican voters.

Because if you acknowledge that we are living in a moment where some very large portion of Republican voters are illiberal, then you are forced into some uncomfortable choices. You can either:

— Make your own accommodation with illiberalism; or

— Start supporting Democrats, however imperfect they may be.

You can, perhaps, understand why this choice so vexes many people who have the Republican party and/or Conservatism deeply entrenched in their personal identity.

For them, it’s easier to throw their hands in the air and insist that real Republicans aren’t as bad as Mastriano and Cox—it’s just that the Democrats made them do it.

Again, Mastriano didn’t need Shapiro’s ad money to win his race. He was on his way to doing that all on his own thanks to his insurrectionist cred. In a better world, Dems could burn $10 million of their cash on ads for Gibbs and Meijer would still win comfortably thanks to the good judgment of Republican voters. In the world we live in, the fact that Gibbs believes the sun and moon rise and set in Donald Trump’s eyes is probably all he needs to get elected, assuming enough voters are made aware of that belief.

I’ll leave you with this viral clip from yesterday of Liz Cheney. Dems haven’t run any ads against her in Wyoming; in fact, they’re not even offering a candidate in the House race there this year for fear that doing so would divert Democratic voters’ support for Cheney. She’s going to lose by 30 points regardless thanks to Republicans.

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