Rep. Mike Rogers Announces Surprise Move From Congress to Radio

The House Intelligence Committee chairman will retire at the end of this term.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: House Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the troubled launch of the website October 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The federal healthcare insurance exchange site has been plagued by problems since its launch on October 1.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
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Tim Alberta
March 28, 2014, 4:32 a.m.

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.

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