Michigan Republicans are excited about the potential for Rep. Dave Camp to run for their open Senate seat, a move the party believes would instantly put the Democrat-leaning state in play.
Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, would be the GOP's most high-profile candidate in the race and its most prolific fundraiser. But would he clear a primary field that still has time to grow?
"Anyone who would consider running against Dave would have to consider, No. 1, he’s got a huge campaign account," said Stu Sandler, a Republican consultant in Michigan. "He’s got the resources to win statewide. He’s also very good on his feet, he’s strong on issues. He would be a daunting challenge in a primary."
A Republican source confirmed that Camp, who unveiled his interest in the race on Tuesday in an interview with Politico, is seriously considering a bid and has been in touch with Senate leadership for some time.
But he has yet to speak with former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, currently the only Republican in the race. Reached for comment Wednesday morning, Land, who entered the race when it became clear Rep. Mike Rogers wouldn't run, said she has not heard from Camp.
"When Congressman Rogers was going through the process, we actually talked on the phone and spoke during that time," Land said. "The last time I saw Dave Camp a few months back, he didn’t have an interest. So obviously something has changed, but he hasn’t talked to me."
Democrats are rallying around Rep. Gary Peters, who had $1.8 million on hand after the second fundraising quarter. He is the presumptive nominee in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin.
Land declined to say what she would do if Camp ran, preferring to speak with him first. "I’m out there raising money and working. I will wait, and we’ll see what happens," she said.
In an interview on Flint radio station WFNT on Tuesday, Land said she was not afraid of primary competition — but that was before the Camp news broke. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has reportedly also spoken with Oakland County District Court Judge Kim Small, and Rep. Justin Amash has yet to rule it out.
Dan Pero, a veteran GOP strategist in Michigan, said the lack of a primary would give the GOP a better shot to win in November 2014. Land would be a "terrific candidate," he said, but Camp, who had more than $3 million in cash on hand as of June 30, is a "game changer."
"The ability to raise campaign money, that’s the huge difference," Pero said. "Plus, Dave’s got an understanding of Washington and how it works at this crucial time in our history. And the role that he’s played on spending issues ... is a huge thing he’d bring to the race."