Another Setback for Republicans: Dave Camp Won’t Run for Senate

The Michigan lawmaker is the second high-profile prospect to crush the hopes of state-party elders.

Camp: The real talk of the town.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Add to Briefcase
Tim Alberta
Aug. 16, 2013, 8:43 a.m.

It’s back to the draw­ing board for Michigan Re­pub­lic­ans.

Rep. Dave Camp’s an­nounce­ment that he won’t run for a Sen­ate seat makes him the second top-tier Re­pub­lic­an to tan­tal­ize party eld­ers with the pro­spect of a can­did­acy, only to leave them crushed and grasp­ing for a fall­back plan.

“Over the past few months, I have re­ceived a lot of en­cour­age­ment to run for the United States Sen­ate. I have greatly ap­pre­ci­ated and am deeply humbled by those calls and con­ver­sa­tions,” Camp said in a state­ment. “After much thought and care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, I have de­cided not to run for the United States Sen­ate.”

Camp’s re­jec­tion of a full-court press from Michigan GOP heavy­weights rep­res­ents a blow to the state party’s hopes of field­ing a top-tier can­did­ate for next year’s race, and is also a set­back for na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­ans hop­ing to cap­ture con­trol of the Sen­ate.

Already this year, sev­er­al well-known Re­pub­lic­ans — in­clud­ing Rep. Mike Ro­gers, the party’s pre­ferred can­did­ate — have de­clined to run for Michigan’s open Sen­ate seat. Camp was viewed as the best re­main­ing op­tion to run against Rep. Gary Peters, the de facto Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee. Now Michigan Re­pub­lic­ans will choose from a de­cidedly me­diocre primary field led by former Sec­ret­ary of State Terri Lynn Land.

Al­most im­me­di­ately after Demo­crat­ic Sen. Carl Lev­in an­nounced his re­tire­ment in March, GOP lead­ers in Lans­ing iden­ti­fied two tar­gets — Camp and Ro­gers — as their best bets to flip the seat in 2014. Both law­makers were cour­ted heav­ily and both agreed to con­sider a cam­paign. The next month, however, Camp told a room­ful of re­port­ers in Wash­ing­ton, “I’m not tak­ing a ser­i­ous look at the race.” Camp, the chair­man of the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, ad­ded: “I’m pretty busy.”¦ I’ve got a big job. I’m com­mit­ted to tax re­form, and I’m go­ing to work very hard to make it a real­ity.”

Michigan Re­pub­lic­ans then turned their at­ten­tion to Ro­gers. Like Camp, he had seemed re­cept­ive to ini­tial en­treat­ies to run. But also like Camp, Ro­gers is the chair­man of a power­ful House pan­el — the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee — and hin­ted that his time-in­tens­ive chair­man­ship would be in­com­pat­ible with a cam­paign.

Still, un­der in­tense pres­sure from a long list of loy­al donors, Ro­gers agreed to ser­i­ously ex­am­ine the race and de­liv­er a swift de­cision on his can­did­acy. But then weeks turned in­to months, and Ro­gers re­mained si­lent, prompt­ing Re­pub­lic­ans who had been bear­ish on his can­did­acy to re­think their po­s­i­tion. If he’s not go­ing to run, they wondered, why take this long to an­nounce it?

Just as op­tim­ism began to grow, it be­came ap­par­ent why Ro­gers was tak­ing so long: It gave the ap­pear­ance of thor­ough de­lib­er­a­tion when Ro­gers was con­sumed with a bar­rage of in­ter­na­tion­al af­fairs and giv­ing no ser­i­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to a Sen­ate can­did­acy. People close to him — in­clud­ing his broth­er, state Rep. Bill Ro­gers — ac­know­ledged that the con­gress­man was claim­ing to “con­sider” the race be­cause donors and party lead­ers had asked him to, not be­cause he had any real in­terest in run­ning. With that writ­ing on the wall, Ro­gers fi­nally an­nounced in June what every­one now knew: He would not run for U.S. Sen­ate.

At that point, it ap­peared as though Michigan Re­pub­lic­ans would have to settle for an un­der­whelm­ing field. Be­hind the scenes, however, a hand­ful of party lead­ers were ur­ging Camp to re­con­sider his dis­missive words in April. With his chair­man­ship term-lim­ited, they asked, wouldn’t he rather take a shot at the Sen­ate in 2014 rather than re­turn to rank-and-file status in the House? In late Ju­ly the pres­sure ap­peared to have made an im­pact: Camp told Politico that he was giv­ing fresh con­sid­er­a­tion to the race, and had even dis­cussed his pro­spect­ive can­did­acy with Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell.

Former Michigan GOP Chair­man Saul Anuzis viewed the de­vel­op­ment as a hope­ful sign. With tax re­form ap­pear­ing in­creas­ingly un­likely, and Camp term-lim­ited as chair­man, it seemed the Sen­ate race would be the lo­gic­al move. “I’m really bullish,” Anuzis said at the time. “The stars might be com­ing to­geth­er.”

Lans­ing in­siders ramped up their full-court press, as­sur­ing Camp that be­cause of his im­press­ive war chest — con­tain­ing up­wards of $3 mil­lion — he could even wait un­til early next year to launch a cam­paign. That way, they reasoned, he could con­tin­ue to fo­cus on tax-re­form ef­forts this year without be­ing dis­trac­ted by a Sen­ate cam­paign.

But a dis­trac­tion it had already be­come. Camp began field­ing more ques­tions about the Sen­ate race than about tax re­form, and by Fri­day, he de­cided he could not pur­sue both. “I will con­tin­ue to put my full fo­cus and ef­fort on serving my con­stitu­ents in mid- and north­ern-Michigan as their rep­res­ent­at­ive and as chair­man of the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee,” Camp said in his state­ment. “That in­cludes cre­at­ing a stronger eco­nomy by mak­ing the tax code more ef­fect­ive and ef­fi­cient, open­ing new mar­kets for Amer­ic­an goods and ser­vices, and crit­ic­al over­sight of Obama­care and the IRS.”

Party eld­ers now face a choice: Rally around Land, the long­time party loy­al­ist who is per­son­ally likable but polit­ic­ally vul­ner­able; or pur­sue a non­polit­ic­al per­son such as a self-fund­ing busi­nessper­son who can claim “out­sider” status in the primary and later against Peters. (In­deed, there is already chat­ter sur­round­ing two such can­did­ates — both un­named — in the metro De­troit area.)

The re­main­ing x-factor on the Re­pub­lic­an side is Rep. Justin Amash, the liber­tari­an law­maker whose polit­ic­al pro­file has been raised re­cently due to the de­bate over do­mest­ic-sur­veil­lance policy. Amash has been con­sid­er­ing the race since Lev­in’s re­tire­ment, but Lans­ing in­siders have no ex­pect­a­tion that he will run. Amash has not giv­en a timetable for his de­cision.

What We're Following See More »
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
FIRST TIME SINCE ITS CREATION
House Reauthorizes DHS
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.

Source:
OPPONENTS SAY SHE SHOULD RESIGN
AFT’s Weingarten Likens Voucher Support to Segregation
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."

Source:
DESPITE EARLIER CRITICISM
Trump Has Confidence in Sessions
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite his criticism of the Justice Department head's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, the White House said Thursday. 'Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,' spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing."

Source:
REPORTEDLY TARGETS LGBT
ACLU Suing Trump Administration for Planned Executive Order
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration for records on an executive order President Trump reportedly planned to release targeting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, ACLU claimed the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and Treasury violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release the records it requested on the reported draft order."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login