Welcome Back McCotter: After Presidential Flirtation, GOP Congressman Faces Primary Competiton
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. -- Having dispensed with his presidential campaign - "the worst 15 minutes of my life" - Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Mich., was welcomed home by Michigan Republicans at the a party conference on Saturday morning.
And though he did not mention his reelection campaign, it was clear that Michigan state Sen. Mike Kowall, also a Republican, was on his mind.
Kowall was also just a few feet away, standing on the porch of the Grand Hotel officially announcing his candidacy for McCotter's seat, while the congressman spoke inside.
Already facing one primary challenger, McCotter focused on party unity in his address, trying to portray himself as the experienced candidate for the party to rally around. "We learned, as Wayne County Republicans, that no matter what the differences between ourselves, the chasm between ourselves and the Democratic Party was far greater." he said. "When all was said and done ... and (the) primaries (were over), we came together to defeat the Democratic Party."
McCotter's was very much a national speech, raising the question of whether his brief foray into presidential politics - and resulting absence from his home state - could hurt his reelection chances.
So far, McCotter is ignoring Kowall, focusing his barbs instead on the Democratic party, which he called "not progressive ... (but) regressive." He described himself as a stalwart in the House Republican Conference, frequently referring to "our" goals for fixing the economy and restructuring government.
McCotter seems intent on getting Kowall out of the way as quickly, and cost-effectively, as possible, reminding the audience that the party had to band together behind Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan in times of difficulty, as well.
The state's redistricting process left McCotter with a much safer district, but the addition of more Republican voters also created an opening for a conservative competitor.
Kowall launched an exploratory committee for the seat in July, saying that McCotter's decision regarding reelection would not affect his own. Kowall has argued that the seat is essentially open. The newly-drawn district centers around Oakland County, which Kowall currently represents in the state Senate.
McCotter spokesperson Martin Van Valkenburg suggested that the state senator is creating an unnecesssary distraction. "In a time of economic stagnation and a time of war, (Kowall's) argument for running is his street address," Van Valkenburg told the Detroit News.
Though McCotter's home is still in the District, his Wayne County base was largely drawn out.