Trump Defines 3rd Congressional District Race

Candidates Race to Invoke the President

It's no secret who inspired businessman Joel Langlois's campaign announcement yesterday. With promises to "support the president" and to "make congress great again," his admiration for president Donald Trump took center stage.

Langlois, who owns the DeltaPlex as well as several manufacturing companies and real estate holdings in Grand Rapids, brings the total number of Republicans running for representative of Michigan’s 3rd congressional district to six. His announcement focused on the reason for the district’s crowded primary: Representative Justin Amash.

“Right now, we have gridlock. And our own congressman Justin Amash is largely to blame” Langlois said. “He’s calling for the impeachment of our president. He votes against right to life, the NRA, and small business organizations.”

Langlois presented himself as an antidote to Amash and a paragon of support for the president.

"I will be a congressman who works to solve problems, breaks the gridlock and will make Congress great again by making our congressman great again," Langlois said. "And, most importantly, I will be a congressman who supports our President and has his back come hell or high water."

Langlois’s language shows just how much of a role allegiance to the president will play in the 3rd’s Republican primary. With Amash establishing himself as one of Trump’s most vocal critics, candidates are racing to show themselves as his staunchest defender.

State Representative Jim Lower, who raised over $200,000 in the first 40 days of his campaign, is making a strong effort to appear loyal to the president.

“I’m running for Congress because President Trump deserves a real conservative ally who can get things done” Lower said in a recent Twitter video. “I’ve supported president Trump at every step of the way, even when the going got tough, and that’s exactly what I’ll do in Washington”.

The battle over who better represents the president even lead to the campaign’s first tangible fireworks, with Lower and former Sand Lake Village Trustee Tom Norton trading blows on social media over their support for his 2016 campaign.

Representative Lynn Afenoulis chose to take a less bombastic approach.

“The people of West Michigan are more driven than ever to build better lives, start new businesses, and invest their time and resources into strong families and communities” Afendoulis said in her announcement. “Our president has done a remarkable job getting us back on that track.”

Opposition to the president is also playing a key role in the Democrat primary. Department of Justice alum Hillary Scholten’s stated that the president inspired her to become politically active in the first place and Former Obama staffer Nick Colvin showed his support for attempts to impeach the president.

Only grocery heir Peter Meijer failed to mention the president explicitly in his literature and speeches, choosing instead to focus on Washington.

“I’m running for Congress because our politicians spend their time trashing each other online, coming up with excuses, and point fingers” Meijer said in his announcement video. “We should expect more from the people that represent us.”

As Langlois’s campaign launches in earnest and the field fully develops itself, this election could answer the question of whether or not the pro-Trump message has the strength to sway Michigan voters.

"Let me be perfectly clear" Langlois said. "We must never replace a 'Never Trump' Republican with another 'Never Trump' Republican."

-The filing deadline for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District election is April 21, 2020. The primary will be on August 4, 2020, and the general election will be on November 3, 2020.

Authored by: Great Lakes News Senior Capitol Reporter Shadrach Strehle