Justin Amash announces Republican bid for Michigan U.S. Senate seat after having previously left GOP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP in 2019 after calling for the impeachment of then−President Donald Trump, announced a Republican bid for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat Thursday.

Amash represented Grand Rapids from 2011 to 2021, and he becomes the third former U.S. representative to join the Republican field vying for Michigan’s open Senate seat. Former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer have also announced Republican campaigns, as has businessman Sandy Pensler.

“I’m convinced that no candidate would be better positioned to win both the Republican primary and the general election,” Amash said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. “That’s why, today, I’m making it official: I’m joining the race for United States Senate in Michigan.”

The decision to jump into the Republican primary comes after Amash left the party to become an independent. He had been the lone House Republican to support a Trump impeachment inquiry in 2019.

He opted not to seek reelection to Congress after his fifth term and to instead pursue a Libertarian nomination for president. At the time, Amash said that millions of Americans do not feel well represented by either major political party.

Amash seems to have come back to the party, but he promised in his announcement to be “an independent−minded senator prepared to challenge anyone and everyone on the people’s behalf,” if elected.

Amash, whose father is Palestinian and his mother Syrian, was the first Palestinian American lawmaker to serve in the U.S. Congress. Earlier this year, Amash said on social media that several relatives were killed when an Israeli airstrike struck a church in Gaza City.

Michigan’s U.S. Senate race is expected to be the lone competitive open seat in the country this year. Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced last January that she would not seek reelection after having served in the upper chamber since 2001.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin is considered the favorite to win the nomination and has dominated other candidates in fundraising — bringing in $11.7 million between her campaign launch in February 2023 and the end of that year.

Rogers, who served seven terms in the U.S. House, has led all Republicans in fundraising. The Republican race is expected to be highly competitive, with Meijer and Pensler each having the ability to at least partially self−fund their campaigns. Former Detroit police Chief James Craig dropped his Republican bid earlier this month.

Amash and Meijer — who are both from Grand Rapids — will each face the difficult task of overcoming past support for impeachments of Trump. Meijer was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in 2021 after the deadly mob siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump wields significant influence over Republicans in Michigan, and his endorsement for the U.S. Senate seat has the potential to dramatically impact the outcome of the race.

The GOP has not won a Michigan U.S. Senate race since 1994.

Defending the Michigan seat could prove crucial for Democrats in their effort to maintain the Senate, where the party holds a 51−49 majority and also faces tough headwinds as they defend seats in Republican−leaning states from West Virginia to Montana and Ohio.

Joey Cappelletti, The Associated Press

Photo: AP