NewsElection 2022


John Gibbs: New Third District leans left, but it's not unwinnable

Gibbs ousted Rep. Peter Meijer in the primary and faces opponent Hillary Scholten in November
Posted at 10:48 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 22:48:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The new third congressional district in Michigan might lean slightly more Democrat after redistricting, but GOP candidate John Gibbs doesn’t see the new lines as impenetrable.

“The new district is less Republican than it was before, but I believe that it is certainly very winnable,” said Gibbs, who ousted freshman Congressman Peter Meijer in the August primary election.

Meijer’s vote to impeach former president Donald Trump after the January 6th assault on the Capitol left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of local Republicans. Gibbs, who worked in Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, wanted to take advantage and offer himself as a more Trump-aligned candidate.

“I kind of realized there was a leadership gap back home, especially after the congressional vote that was taken against the president of our own party,” said Gibbs. “A lot of people felt very betrayed by that.”

Gibbs grew up in the Lansing area, just a short drive from the new 3rd District border. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford University and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University. He's spent time as a missionary in Japan, and working for various think tanks and tech companies, including Apple, prior to joining the Trump administration as assistant secretary for community planning and development at HUD.

Throughout the midterm election cycle, Gibbs has fended off attacks that he moved to the area solely to run for office and oust Meijer.

“I was born and raised in Michigan, so that’s the number one thing,” he said. “I’m not an outsider, I’m from here.”

The primary was one thing, but the general election might prove a tougher effort for Gibbs, who is competing in a new district that shed most of its redder, Republican-leaning areas in favor of more Democratic-leaning or toss-up territories. The new 3rd District lost Ionia, Barry and Calhoun counties to redistricting, and picked up areas along the lakeshore. It also left behind Kent County – the only swath of the old district where Gibb’s challenger Hillary Scholten competed with Meijer in 2020.

On the issues, Gibbs is unapologetically pro-life and is hoping the state’s Proposal Three, an effort to codify abortion access, fails at the ballot box.

“I believe life begins at conception,” said Gibbs. “If we need to build a country where that’s the case, we need to have lots of options and support available for women facing that difficult choice. That includes pregnancy care centers, and it also includes increasing our adoption infrastructure. There are thousands and thousands of people waiting for adoption. I think we can do a lot to shore that up.”

Gibbs said he would support an exception when a pregnant mother’s life is in danger but claimed cases like that are rare.

Gibbs also wants to reign in spending and simultaneously curb inflation. He said his time in HUD proved that both can be accomplished by examining redundant federal agencies.

“I think I would look at every major agency, perhaps rank them by size – you can look at Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense– there’s actually ways we can do the exact same things we’re doing now without cutting hardly anything but simply by removing duplication and reduce the amount of money we’re spending,” said Gibbs. “Look at the federal block grant programs. There’s a lot of duplication in there, and if you can combine some of those you reduce a lot of the overhead and cut a lot of spending there for example.”

Gibbs said he would not have voted for the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, noting it did little to actually curb American inflation.

Shortly after announcing his run, Gibbs came under intense fire for past comments regarding the rights of women. In a blog post in college, Gibbs claimed, “women in the workforce is not beneficial,” and that “the United States has suffered as a result of women’s suffrage.” Gibbs doesn’t deny writing that, but has painted the comments as a joke.

“That was in 1999 when I was a kid in college,” he said, “and that was basically a joke. We were trolling the liberals on campus being a small conservative minority.”

“Obviously I don’t believe any of the claims that are being made out there,” he continued. “I have great women that work on my staff and my mom worked for 35-years for the state government and that’s why I am where I am today. So obviously none of those claims being made are true.”

The new 3rd District would also encompass Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College. While Gibbs wants to make college more affordable, he doesn’t agree with the Biden administration’s sweeping student debt relief.

“Simply doing forgiveness without fixing the root cause of the problem is not going to get us anywhere and what Biden has proposed doesn’t actually fix that root cause,” he said. “We’ve got to control the increase in prices, we’ve got to control the way we do this whole student loan situation or else if we do forgiveness today, you’re going to have the exact same problem next year or the year after.”

In the years since the 2020 election, Gibbs has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from Republicans. In fact, he was so fervent on the issue, he earned the early primary endorsement of the former president. Gibbs called Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s plan to mail absentee ballots to all eligible voters in the state “reckless” and said it opened the door for “a lot of shenanigans.”

“Especially when there are so many addresses on the voter rolls that are not accurate and up to date, you run the risk of having a huge number of absentee ballots out there, with no control, you don’t know where they’re going, you don’t know who might be filling it out and turning it in on behalf of someone else,” said Gibbs. “So I think the danger far exceeds any benefits.”

To learn more about the Gibbs campaign, click here.

The midterm elections will take place on November 8th nationwide. Polls are open in Michigan from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.