Several Republicans Mulling Race to Succeed Ehlers

Posted February 11, 2010 at 4:25pm

Potential Republican candidates are beginning to emerge in the race to succeed Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), who announced his retirement Wednesday.

State Sens. Bill Hardiman and Mark Jansen, former state Rep. Jerry Kooiman, former state Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and attorney Jim Mitchell are all exploring a run. However, former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus has ruled out a bid.

Hardiman, Jansen, Kooiman and Mitchell all told Roll Call that they plan on making a decision in the next few days or weeks.

Jansen said he plans to “do a little checking over the next week or so,” while Hardiman said, “My wife and I are going to take a few days to carefully consider it and then we’ll make decision.” Kooiman said in an e-mail that he “will spend the next week or so in prayer, weighing the options, while seeking advice from my wife, trusted advisors and previous supporters.”

Mitchell told Roll Call: “I’ve had a great number of people encourage me to run already. At this point I need to take a look at some personal considerations.”

Posthumus said he has received calls from several interested Republicans and believes “there are many good candidates out there I can be enthused with.” But he said he is staying out of the race at the moment.

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, state Rep. Dave Hildenbrand and former Kent County Commission chairman Steve Heacock have also been mentioned as possible GOP candidates. They did not return calls inquiring about their interest in the race.

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.

Republicans are heavily favored to hold onto the seat, but the local Grand Rapids Press also listed a few potential Democratic names that could join the fray: former state House Speaker Pro Tem Michael Sak; state Rep. and Rev. Robert Dean; and former state Rep. Steve Pestka.