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Moolenaar defeats Norton in Michigan's 2nd congressional district GOP primary

Rick Brewer
Congressman John Moolenaar watched the primary election results roll in for Michigan's second district primary race at the Kent County GOP offices in Grand Rapids on August 2, 2022.

Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar is the projected winner of the GOP nomination in Michigan’s second congressional district.

The district covers much of central Michigan and the Lake Michigan shoreline, including counties like Manistee, Mason and Oceana.

Unofficial results show Moolenaar leading challenger Tom Norton with more than 60% of the vote and the Associated Press declared him the winner. Moolenaar’s victory means he’ll appear on a fifth-straight general election ballot.

Moolenaar watched the results come in at the Kent County GOP offices in Grand Rapids.

"I’m excited to be the nominee of our party," said Moolenaar. "It’s a great district, the second district. 20 counties across Michigan. Looking forward to serving. Just grateful for the support I’ve received. Grateful to my family, grateful to the volunteers and the staff who have helped us on this campaign."

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This election marked Moolenaar's first without the backing of voters from his hometown: the City of Midland. Moolenaar described not having Midland behind him as "different," but the newly drawn second congressional district still includes the majority of Midland county.

Over half of the new second district includes 55% of counties from the old fourth district. Moolenaar says the new map proposes new issues to tackle if he’s elected in November.

"With my work on the appropriations committee, the agriculture subcommittee. Now it’s a more diverse agriculture district," said Moolenaar. "It’s all represented in the second district and I want to be very involved in the Farm Bill."

This primary marked the first time Moolenaar faced an opponent in the past three GOP primary cycles.

Norton, a combat veteran and former Village President of Sand Lake in Kent County, called Moolenaar to concede and says he will not contest the results.

"This is not a re-countable race," said Norton on a phone call with WCMU. Norton, a strong advocate for forensic audits of all federal elections, has paid for election audits in previous races he's been involved with.

Norton says he’ll do everything in his power to fight against establishment candidates, like Moolenaar, in future elections and described himself as a "dangerous person" when it comes to mobilizing voters.

Norton added that former President Donald Trump turned his back on the anti-establishment faction of the GOP, a label Norton embraces, after Trump endorsed Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon last week.

Moolenaar will face Democrat Jerry Hilliard in the November general election. Hilliard ran unopposed in the second district Democratic primary.

This will be the third match-up between Moolenaar and Hilliard in a general election. Hilliard has been defeated each time by Moolenaar with less than 40% of the vote.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.