Why Justin Amash could give the GOP a headache in Michigan’s Senate race

Why Justin Amash could give the GOP a headache in Michigan’s Senate race

Former Rep. Justin Amash entered the Republican primary for Michigan’s open Senate race on Thursday, but he’s unlikely to have much appeal with GOP voters after quitting the party due to his hostility toward Donald Trump. However, by further fracturing the non-MAGA vote, his presence in the race could open the door for a more Trumpist candidate to jump in—and leave Republicans saddled with a nominee who could cost them a shot at flipping this seat.

During the 10 years Amash represented western Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, he often found himself at odds with Republican leadership and frequently dissented by invoking beliefs he described as “libertarian.” His differences with his party reached new heights, however, when he came out in support of Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, making him the only Republican to do so.

Amash soon after quit the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which he had co-founded, then left the GOP to become an independent. The following year, he joined the Libertarian Party, making him the first member of Congress to ever serve under the party’s banner. But with his path to reelection seemingly foreclosed in a race that already featured candidates from both major parties, Amash opted against seeking a sixth term in 2020.

Now, though, Amash apparently sees a road back to office, but even setting his many apostasies aside, he still faces a further obstacle: former Rep. Peter Meijer, the man who succeeded him in Congress. Meijer also knows what it’s like to be ostracized by the Republican Party. While never the maverick Amash was, Meijer backed Trump’s second impeachment in 2021 and paid the price when he lost the GOP primary to a Trump-endorsed challenger, John Gibbs, the next year. (Gibbs was defeated in the general election by Democrat Hillary Scholten.)

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