While Rep. Gary Peters seems to have a clear path to the Democratic nomination, we still don't whether the GOP's Senate nominee in Michigan will be Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Mike Rogers or someone else entirely. That doesn't mean it's too early to look at the possible House candidates should Rogers or Amash decide to run for Senate.
Both seats lean Republican -- Amash's more so -- and Republican operatives tout a number of up-and-comers as potential replacements in the Third District. With Amash and the party establishment frequently at loggerheads, some longtime operatives say an Amash Senate candidacy could be an opening to return the seat to its moderate Republican roots.
The first name mentioned by nearly every consultant is that of state Sen. Mark Jansen, termed the "early favorite" by one GOP operative. The term-limited legislator is "much closer to that traditional Kent County, West Michigan compassionate conservative mold," said a Lansing consultant.
That "mold," say some Republicans, dates back to one of the seat's former occupants, Gerald Ford. That history may appeal to former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who got her start in politics working for Ford's 1976 presidential campaign. Land told Hotline On Call last month that a Senate bid is "an interest that I've had for some time," but GOP operatives -- including some who were doubtful of her intention to run for Senate -- said she might be enticed by an opening in Ford's old seat.
Another possibility is state Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, touted by several consultants as a strong candidate. But with a young family, some say he might not be willing to take on a congressional bid.
Also residing in the district is Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, who is known for pushing conservative causes. But Bolger would come with baggage after his role in helping a state representative switch parties and front a fake candidate to challenge him. Bolger narrowly won re-election in his 2012 campaign.
In Rogers' Eight District -- which is more of a battleground -- Republicans offered fewer names and more caveats. "It's a tough district because it straddles Lansing and Detroit," said one Republican operative. "Lansing [airtime] is more affordable, but that's sort of the Democratic base." State Sen. Joe Hune, whose district runs near Lansing, "already has a strong base in the part of the district that's the toughest to penetrate," the operative said. But, he added, a candidate well known in Detroit wouldn't have to play catch-up buying expensive airtime to boost his or her name identification in that area.
One such candidate might be Rogers' brother, state Rep. Bill Rogers, whose district lies in the metro Detroit area. State Rep. Tom McMillin, also mentioned by consultants, represents a Detroit-area district as well.
Democratic operatives were less willing to speculate on candidates to replace Peters in the 14th District, but eyes will certainly turn to former Rep. Hansen Clarke, who lost a member-on-member primary to Peters in 2012.
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