After making a splash with an op-ed on July 4 that he was leaving the Republican Party, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) said on CNN on Sunday that he will run for re-election as an independent.
The the five-term congressman told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that he feels “very confident” about winning in 2020.
However, the libertarian-leaning Amash was asked, as he has been several times, about running as a Libertarian for president next year. He has never taken the option off the table and he didn’t again on CNN.
“I still wouldn’t rule anything like that out,” he said. “I believe I have to use my skills, my public influence, where it serves the country best. And I believe I have to defend the Constitution in whichever way that works best,” Amash said.
Amash represents the 3rd Congressional District in West Michigan that includes Grand Rapids and Battle Creek. His Washington Post column was titled: “Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP.”
“In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power,” Amash wrote.
He had been the lone Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment after reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on 2016 Russian election interference.
Trump responded to Amash’s announcement on Thursday with a vitriolic tweet, although he didn’t name him.
Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is “quitting” the Party. No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2019
When asked about Trump’s tweet, Amash said, “I don’t have a respond to it. … It’s what the president does.”
Amash’s decision to run as an independent means he does not have to face a GOP primary in 2020. Other Trump critics, like now-former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), decided against running for reelection in 2018 rather than face the president’s wrath.
Republicans running for the 3rd include Peter Meijer, whose family owns the retail store chain, state Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.). Trump has yet to make an endorsement.
Amash also appeared on WZZM-TV this weekend about leaving the GOP and was sharply critical of both his former party and the Democratic Party.
“in recent weeks and months, it’s become clear to me that we need a new direction,” he said.