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Stark Differences Over Crime Define Key Congressional Race in Michigan

Crime may prove to be the deciding factor in the race to fill the open congressional seat in western Michigan.

“There have been four recent shootings in Grand Rapids. People don’t feel safe,” said Republican nominee John Gibbs in an Oct. 7, 2022, sit-down interview with The Epoch Times.

“I believe the explosion of violence across America is a result of the Democrat policies of defunding the police and cashless bail.”

Gibbs alleges his Democrat opponent, Hillary Scholten, is “soft on crime.”

In a written statement to The Epoch Times, Gibbs’s campaign alleged that Scholten gave hundreds of dollars to the Progressive Women’s Alliance of West Michigan and to Equity PAC, both of which “support defunding the police.”

Gibbs also alleged in the statement that Scholten removed from her 2022 campaign website the criminal justice reform section that showed her support for bail reform.

“Scholten’s views do not match up with the views of the people of this district. She’s out of step,” said Gibbs in the interview.

GOP congressional candidate John Gibbs in his Grand Rapids, Michigan headquarters, on Oct. 7, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

Scholten did not respond to a request for an interview by The Epoch Times.

Her campaign website accuses Republicans of mounting “an assault on our democracy” and of engaging in “voter suppression.”

According to her website, Scholten favors expanding mail-in and early voting nationwide.

Though Scholten is strongly pro-abortion, her campaign website touts her commitment and service to the Christian Reformed Church she attends.

According to its website, the Christian Reformed Church is officially pro-life and calls on all of its members to “speak out against the atrocity of abortion.”

On the subject of education, Scholten supports expanded vocational training and apprenticeships.

She acknowledged on her website that two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdowns “have left some kids an entire grade level or more behind and our teachers strained.”

Scholten made no mention on her website of the issue of transgender indoctrination in Michigan schools or the Democrats’ push to shut down an important oil pipeline that supplies Michigan and Ontario.

Gibbs told The Epoch Times, “Scholten lines up and is marching in lockstep with the Democrats’ agenda on energy and education.

“The people of this district don’t believe there are 57 genders and don’t want to be told they have to buy an electric car,” Gibbs said.

Both campaigns were represented at the Oct. 8 Grand Rapids Pulaski Days Parade.

A 23-year-old Grand Rapids woman and recent graduate of Michigan State University, turned out early to march in the parade in support of Scholten,

She told The Epoch Times, “I’m for Hillary Scholten because she believes it is a woman’s own decision what she does with her body.”

Epoch Times Photo
The float of the Hillary Scholten for Congress campaign at the Pulaski Days Parade in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Oct. 8, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

A male Scholten marcher from Cedar Springs said he liked the fact that Scholten was an independent thinker.

“She’s thinking about all people, not just some,” he said.

One woman said, “Hillary will maintain our democratic tradition and help preserve our Madisonian democracy.

“She’s a person of integrity and civility which are things we need.

“She’s got experience with law and order.”

A man from Byron Center, a near suburb of Grand Rapids, told The Epoch Times, “I don’t trust Hillary. Her ads are deceptive. She is trying to present herself as being a moderate that’s for law and order. She’s not.”

Parade spectator Michael Furage of Grand Rapids told The Epoch Times, “I’m for Gibbs. He supports Trump.

“Gibbs is a true fiscal conservative and is for limited government. He’s 100 percent pro-life.”

Scholten, 40, is a former attorney with the Obama Justice Department. She holds a degree in social work and was active with the Michigan Immigration Rights Center. She is a mother of two.

Neither Scholten nor Gibbs has ever served in an elective office.

The showdown with Gibbs is Scholten’s second attempt to run for Congress. She lost by six points in 2020 to Republican Peter Meijer.

Meijer’s career in Washington was cut short when Gibbs defeated him in the August 2022 primary.

He was one of 10 Republican representatives who voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Meijer and the outside political action committees supporting him overwhelmingly outspent Gibbs in the primary election, much like Scholten is doing to Gibbs this time.

Gibbs attributes his low-budget primary victory to his personally visiting voters “in every single township, village, and city in the district—something we are doing again in the general election.

“It’s going well. The numbers look good. We have the edge.

“We’re going up on TV now and we’re in a position to stay up on TV right through election day,” he said

The newly reapportioned District 3 may be more favorable to Scholten this time around.

As configured today, Joe Biden would have won the district by 8 points in 2020.

Analysts rate the current district between plus-2 and plus-8 in favor of the Democrats.

On the other hand, the District 3 seat hasn’t been won by a Democrat since the special election of 1974, when then-Congressman Gerald Ford was tapped to succeed Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon’s vice president.

Gibbs, 43, was born in Michigan and raised in Lansing. He currently resides in Byron Center.

The grandson of southern sharecroppers, he is the first in his family to graduate from college.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford and a master’s in public administration from Harvard.

He has worked in the private sector as a computer engineer in software development and cybersecurity.

Appointed by Trump, Gibbs served as acting assistant secretary for community planning and development under HUD secretary Ben Carson.

Gibbs also served on the 1776 Commission, an advisory body that supported patriotic education in America’s schools.

He told The Epoch Times that his education, as well as his experience in the business world and in government policymaking, have equipped him well to be a congressman.

Gibbs describes himself as a devout Christian whose zeal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ prompted him to become fluent in Japanese and serve in Japan as a missionary.

Steven Kovac


Steven Kovac reports for the National Team from Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. Steven is an ordained minister of the Gospel. He and his wife of 33 years have two grown children. He can be reached at steven.kovac@epochtimes.us

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