Exclusive: Amash says Trump ‘not popular’ in his district

Updated 5:02 p.m.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (Cascade Twp.) isn’t stressing over reports that President Donald Trump and his allies have considered backing a primary challenge to the West Michigan Republican.

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

“The president’s not popular in my district, and it hasn’t been close in terms of how well I’ve done compared to how well he’s done,” Amash told the Michigan Advance Wednesday morning in a brief interview on Capitol Hill.

His comments came after Politico reported earlier Wednesday that Trump and his advisers were weighing whether to back a challenge to Amash after he became the lone Republican member of Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment.

Days after Amash wrote on Twitter last month that Trump had “engaged in impeachable conduct,” two primary challengers announced they were running to unseat the congressman. Trump made no secret of his disdain for the congressman, calling Amash a “total lightweight” and a “loser” on Twitter.

Amash primary challengers emerge after Trump impeachment tweets

But Amash doesn’t think Trump’s backing will help a challenger win his seat.

“I don’t think it helps anyone in my district to have the president’s support,” Amash said Wednesday.

Amash’s 3rd District voted for Trump in 2016 by a margin of 9.4 points, according to Associated Press data. Amash won his race that year against Democrat Douglas Smith by 22 points. Amash won in 2018 against Democrat Cathy Albro by 11.2 points, even as Democrats swept into office in other key state races, including the governorship.

And Trump’s approval rate has plummeted in Michigan since he took office. Between Jan. 2017 and Feb. 2019, his approval rating in the state dropped by 23 percentage points, Newsweek reported.

Amash votes against his party more than any other U.S. House member

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a former Michigan GOP chair, is barred under party rules from supporting primary candidates. But she told Politico it’s “sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia.”

She added, “Voters in Amash’s district strongly support this president and would rather their congressman work to support the president’s policies that have brought jobs, increased wages and made life better for Americans.”

Ronna McDaniel | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Current Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox hasn’t held back her anger with Amash, tweeting last month, “While President @realDonaldTrump’s leadership has led to the strongest economy in a generation, Justin Amash has opposed his ‘America First’ agenda every step of the way.”

She added that she believes the congressman spoke out against Trump in a “desperate attempt to grab headlines and advance his own presidential ambitions.”

Amash has been rumored as a possible primary challenger to Trump in 2020, but has kept a fairly low media profile since calling for the president’s impeachment.

He declined to tell the Advance Wednesday whether he plans to launch a White House bid, although he didn’t rule out the possibility.

“I don’t rule things out like that,”* he said.

Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story.

This story was edited to correct a quote from Rep. Justin Amash.

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.


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