With just a couple of weeks left until the Aug. 4 primary, the five Republicans in the race for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District will be debating Monday, July 20.
The debate will go from 2-3 p.m.; topics will include job creation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration and health care.
This district is currently represented by Rep. Justin Amash, but he announced that he will not be seeking re-election after leaving the Republican Party, toying with the idea of running for president and now legislating as a Libertarian.
There is one Democrat in the race, Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney based in Grand Rapids. Scholten decided not to participate in the debate; she faces no challengers in the primary.
These are the Republicans who will be debating, listed in alphabetical order:
State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis
Lynn Afendoulis is a state representative in her first term, representing Michigan’s 73rd District. Before being elected to public office in 2018, Afendoulis worked for Universal Forest Products, including 15 years as the director of corporate communication.
Running on a conservative platform, some of Afendoulis' key issues include a focus on the economy, immigration, protecting the Great Lakes and being pro-life.
Joe Farrington is a current trustee for the Village of Lyons and a bar owner. He earned a degree in business from Florida State University. Before permanently moving back to Michigan, Farrington worked as financial adviser, a salesman and a math teacher.
Farrington calls himself a fiscal conservative but social moderate, and some of his main issues include funding for education, "budget before billionaires," and equal pay for equal work.
Peter Meijer, scion of the Midwest grocery store chain Meijer, is an Iraq War veteran who deployed for a year in 2010 as a non-commissioned officer. He then worked in humanitarian and disaster relief following weather disasters in New York, Oklahoma and the Philippines.
Some of Meijer's issues include ending military involvement in the Middle East, a focus on the economy, immigration and being pro-life.
Tom Norton served in the Afghan War before getting elected to public office as a Village Trustee and Village President in Sand Lake. He also ran for Michigan House of Representatives in 2014. Norton now works as a salesman.
Norton's platform is veteran-focused, and some of the issues include health care, tax relief and being pro-life.
Emily Rafi is a transaction attorney based in Battle Creek. She has 12 years experience practicing federal law after founding her private law practice. Rafi has also done work for banks in the Small Business Association.
Rafi originally joined the race as Democrat but switched to a Republican platform following the impeachment process. Some of her key issues include term limits, reducing taxes and infrastructure.
What is the 3rd District?
The 3rd Congressional district covers a large swath of West Michigan, including Ionia, Barry, and Calhoun counties and portions of Kent and Montcalm counties. Grand Rapids is the biggest metropolitan area in the district.
In 2015, there were just over 730,000 people in the Third District.
How does the 3rd District usually vote?
In the 2018 election, the district re-elected incumbent Congressman Justin Amash with 54% of the vote. He beat out the Democratic candidate, Cathy Albro, who got 43% of the vote.
In that election, about two-thirds of the voters came from Kent County. Also in 2018, Kent County voted for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican candidate for attorney general Tom Leonard. This shows that neither Republicans or Democrats are getting elected in across the board.
The next largest contingent of voters came from Calhoun County, with about 25 percent.
Going back to the 2016 election, Kent County voted for Republican President Donald Trump. Hilary Clinton lost the county to Trump by about 3% of votes.
The 3rd Congressional district seat has been filled by a Republican since 1993—up until Amash left the party last year.
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