Michigan’s Ehlers Announces Retirement

Posted February 10, 2010 at 10:39am

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) will not seek re-election to a 10th term, he confirmed in a statement Wednesday morning, making him the 17th Republican to announce plans to leave the House at the end of 2010. The race for Ehlers’ 3rd district seat, however, is not expected to be highly competitive.

“While I regret leaving when so much more needs to be done, I know it is time for me to step down,” the 76-year-old Congressman said. “I am in good health, but I recognize that I should complete this chapter of my life. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and my family.”

Ehlers, who has been in elective office since 1975, held a press conference Wednesday morning in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., to announce his decision.

The district, which lies in west-central Michigan and takes in Grand Rapids, the state’s second-most-populous city, is likely to stay in GOP hands despite Ehlers’ departure. The district’s residents were evenly split in the 2008 presidential election — giving 49 percent each to President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — but the district went by a double-digit margin for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Ehlers has been comfortably re-elected since winning a 1993 special election.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) issued a statement lauding Ehlers’ two decades of service in Congress. The NRCC chairman added that he’s confident that Republicans will hold the seat.

“Voters in the Grand Rapids area have long supported Republican candidates who stand for limited government and pro-growth economic policies, and we are confident that they will continue to do so in November,” he said.

First-term state Rep. Justin Amash (R), a favorite with the local “tea party” activists, announced Tuesday that he will run for the seat. Local activist Michael Van Kleeck has also filed to run as a Republican.

Other names being floated as possible candidates include state Sen. Bill Hardiman of Kent County; Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who is currently running for lieutenant governor but has expressed interest in the seat in the past; 2002 gubernatorial candidate and former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus; and state Sen. Mark Jansen, who represents parts of Kent County.

No Democrat has filed to run for the seat.