GOP Congressman Announces Bid for Senate

( – Former congressman Justin Amash is planning to contest a Michigan Senate seat in November. Amash, who jumped ship from the GOP to the Libertarian Party while in office, is hoping to pick up anti-Trump Republican voters. The seat is potentially winnable for a Republican, but will Trump loyalists ever vote for Amash? He’s gambling that they will.

Who Is Justin Amash?

Amash, an Arab-American lawyer from Grand Rapids who had previously served in the state House, was elected to represent Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District in 2010. He held onto the seat until 2021, despite openly opposing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. That opposition continued through Trump’s time in office, and in July 2019 he left the Republican Party in protest at what he called the “rigidly partisan” main parties. After a few months as an independent, he joined the Libertarian Party in April 2020, becoming the first Libertarian in Congress, but soon after he announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election. He left the House in January 2021.

Now he’s trying to get back into Congress. On January 18 he said he was considering running for the Senate seat that will be vacated next year by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). On February 29, he confirmed that he’ll be entering the Republican primary for the seat.

Can He Win?

The Senate seat Amash is aiming at isn’t solidly blue. Stabenow has held it since 2000, but she’s never broken 60% of the vote and at her last win, in 2018, she got 53.2%. With the Biden administration struggling in the polls, there’s a good chance a strong GOP candidate could flip the seat. The question is, does Amash have what it takes to achieve that?

Amash is the fourth candidate to announce for the Republican primary, after former congressmen Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer and local businessman Sandy Pensler. Meijer is also anti-Trump and is unlikely to get an endorsement from the former president if he wins the primary — but that applies to Amash, too. In fact, he was the first House Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment in 2019, and Trump is unlikely to have forgotten that.

He also has significant support among Michigan Republicans, and if he declines to endorse the candidate that won’t go unnoticed. The Democrat nomination is likely to go to Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who’s on the conservative wing of her party, and it’s going to be hard for the GOP nominee to beat her without solid backing from Trump’s grassroots supporters. Amash will struggle to get that, so he’s going to have a hard time persuading Michigan Republicans that he’s the right candidate for this race.

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