Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the powerful House Intelligence Committee, will retire from Congress at the end of this term and begin a new career in talk radio.
"They may have lost my vote in Congress, but you haven't lost my voice," Rogers told Detroit radio station WJR on Friday morning. According to the Detroit News, Rogers will begin hosting a nationally syndicated program for Cumulus Radio next year.
It's a surprise exit for Rogers, who becomes the latest ally of Speaker John Boehner to announce his retirement (something noted by several GOP aides watching for clues related to Boehner's own future). Rogers was not term-limited at the Intelligence Committee, where he wields one of the most influential gavels on Capitol Hill, and had cited his important work on that panel when passing on a Michigan Senate bid last year.
"For me, the significance and depth of the impact I can make on my constituents' behalf far outweighs the perceived importance of any title I might hold," he said in a note to supporters last June, informing them he wouldn't run for the Senate.
Indeed, Rogers has used his perch atop the Intelligence Committee to advocate for a muscular intelligence-gathering operation both at home and abroad. That position has faced mounting opposition, however, in light of leaks from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor. Just this week Rogers unveiled a proposal to overhaul the NSA's data collection rules — a move designed to quell public anger over domestic surveillance practices and preempt a more sweeping set of changes proposed by a rival coalition of libertarian-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats.
Tellingly, Rogers, a former FBI agent, said his NSA reform plan is meant to address a problem "based upon a perception, not a reality."
Although hawkish on national security matters, Rogers is viewed as one of the more moderate voices in his conference — which has helped him earn seven terms representing an evolving congressional district that was carried by President Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 after redistricting. Rogers's retirement is likely to spawn a free-for-all of candidates scrambling to submit election paperwork before the April 22 filing deadline. The primaries will be held Aug. 5.
One strong prospective candidate is Rogers's older brother, state Rep. Bill Rogers, who is term-limited in Lansing. They are extremely close, and Bill's state district overlaps with his brother's. For purposes of organization and fundraising, Bill Rogers would enter the race as a decided front-runner, if he so chooses.
Michigan's 8th Congressional District is rated R+2 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index, and should be retained with relative ease by Republicans in this non-presidential election year.