Amash run for president makes Michigan House seat safer for GOP

Candidacy could give conservatives unhappy with Trump a choice other than Biden

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who quit the Republican Party last summer in protest of President Donald Trump, is seeking the Libertarian nod for president and giving up his House seat.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who quit the Republican Party last summer in protest of President Donald Trump, is seeking the Libertarian nod for president and giving up his House seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 28, 2020 at 9:04pm

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who quit the Republican Party last summer in a public sign of his disapproval of President Donald Trump and later voted with Democrats to impeach him, said Tuesday night that he will mount his own long-shot bid for the White House.

“Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the [Libertarian Party’s] nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people,” he tweeted.

Amash, a conservative libertarian who officially switched to an independent last year, had previously announced that he had “paused active campaigning” in mid-February for another term in the House. Trump carried the solidly GOP 3rd District in Western Michigan, which includes Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, by 9 points in 2016.

Amash won a fifth term in 2018 by 11 points, but because of his split with Trump and his exit from the GOP, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales had seen the seat as vulnerable, rating the 3rd District race Tilt Republican. Several Republicans are running in the Aug. 4 primary, including Army veteran Peter Meijer, whose family owns a grocery store chain, and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis.

“Amash’s presidential run is a gift to House Republicans,” Gonzales said. “Without Amash running for reelection and complicating the race as an independent, Republicans shouldn’t have a problem taking his district back in November.”

Amash’s campaign account had $722,071 in cash at the end of 2019, after raising more than $1 million for the year.

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Amash faces almost insurmountable odds in his presidential campaign but could play a spoiler role, depending on how many states’ ballots he can qualify for. Some see him as a danger to the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Matt Mackowiak, a political consultant and county Republican chairman in Texas, said Amash hurts Biden more than Trump.

“Never Trump Republicans can vote for Amash without supporting infanticide, massive spending, gun control and the Green New Deal," Mackowiak said on Twitter Tuesday night.

Amash said April 13 that he was considering a run against Trump because “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.” Those remarks came after Trump said, in contrast to the U.S. Constitution, that presidential authority was “total.”

The five-term Michigan lawmaker voted with other House Republicans 68 percent of the time in 2018 on key votes that split the parties, according to CQ vote studies data. That same year, Amash voted for Trump’s preferred outcome on legislation 37 percent of the time.

Amash voting record