Rep. Justin Amash, who quit GOP over opposition to Trump, not planning to run for reelection to US House

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Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is calling it quits, at least for now.

The west Michigan congressman and sharp critic of President Donald Trump who abandoned the Republican Party a year ago and this year toyed with a run for president as a Libertarian posted on Twitter late Thursday that he doesn't plan to run for reelection to the U.S. House.

"I love representing our community in Congress. ... This is my choice, but I’m still going to miss it," Amash said in his post. "Thank you for your trust."

While it had seemed the Libertarian Party, which he joined several months ago, was amenable to nominating him in the district — and could have done so up to Aug. 4 in order to get him on the November ballot — Amash's tweet appears to bring to an end that happening.

He is the only member of the U.S, House who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

Although it was widely known that Amash has ceased campaigning for reelection months ago as he weighed a run for the presidency, there was still the prospect of his running for a sixth two-year term to represent Michigan's 3rd Congressional District.

His office had declined on several occasions to give any indication whether or not Amash was considering running again for his seat since he decided against a run for the presidency in May. Amash was a lifelong Republican, having served briefly in the state House before running in 2010 for the seat he currently holds. but dropped out of the party last July saying both the Republican and Democratic parties had created a toxic atmosphere.

More: Justin Amash announces he won't run for president, says it's too hard to break through

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Amash has previously become the only Republican member of Congress to call for Trump's impeachment, saying in a series of posts on Twitter that the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller convinced him that the president had committed offenses in connection with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump branded Amash a "loser" and, after Amash quit the Republican Party, called that "Great news," referring to Amash, a Constitutional lawyer, as "one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress."

More: GOP Rep. Justin Amash leaves far-right Freedom Caucus he helped found

Throughout his tenure in Congress, though, Amash has always kept his distance from establishment elements of his party. He has taken positions against some Republican plans on spending and health care because he didn't think they went far enough in getting government out of people's lives. At the same time, he worked with some progressive Democrats, like former U.S. Rep. John Conyers, to scale back government surveillance on Americans, even when his party supported reauthorizing such legislation.

It really surprised no one who knew him when Amash became a foil for Trump, who he opposed in the 2016 election.

While Amash clearly had his supporters – several of the key members of the anti-Trump political action committee the Lincoln Project initially moved to create a PAC to support his reelection effort – that faded somewhat with his move to the Libertarian Party and consideration of a presidential run, which, some experts believed, could help Trump's chances by potentially taking votes against from presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Running for reelection in his west Michigan district, however, would also have been difficult for Amash, who lives in Cascade Township outside Grand Rapids. The 3rd District is still considered solidly Republican, and a strong field of candidates, including Peter Meijer, who is a member of the family that built the eponymous grocery store chain; state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids; and former Sand Lake Village president Tom Norton are in the running.

Amash's departure, if anything, probably hurts the chances of Hillary Scholten, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the district. Democrats have long believed they could flip the district, especially as Kent County, its biggest county, has become more favorable territory to Democrats, but having Amash in the race to siphon some Republican votes in a general election would have been a big plus.

Amash's announcement came just after he filed a campaign finance report for the three-month period ending June 30 that showed him raising just over $24,000, indicating that he had all but stopped any campaign activity.

Contact Todd Spangler at tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Justin Amash not running for reelection to Congress