A month ago, we had an article saying that Michigan’s Justin Amash was looking into a run for president. We have noted that candidates often say they are not running just before they do, and that there are several steps to running, so beginning the process may mean nothing. And nothing is what we got with Justin Amash.
Fox says Amash is now un-running.
Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., announced Saturday that he will not run in the 2020 presidential election due to challenges posed by the coronavirus during the campaign season. . . “After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate.”. . .
Donald Trump responded by mocking Amash’s candidacy. “No, I think Amash would make a wonderful candidate, especially since he is way behind in his district and has no chance of maintaining his Congressional seat,” Trump tweeted in April. “He almost always votes for the Do Nothing Dems anyway.”
That was not true, of course, as Amash voted lockstep with Trump 2/3 of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. In addition, Fox notes that Amash has an 88% score from the American Conservative Union. Also, we noted that Trump often says what he wants you to think, not what he knows to be true.
Third-party candidates usually run for president, not because they think they could win, but rather, to get a place in the history books, and/or to promote their favored ideals and positions. Amash was offering a chance to have a discussion of the excessive power of the presidency. He was running precisely to try to begin to balance what was once a balance of power between the presidency and Congress, saying, “I’m Promising to Be a President Who Will Reduce My Power,” according to the libertarian publication, Reason.
Sadly, we will not have that discussion, now.
Amash obviously felt that he would not get much attention at a time when Trump is getting free media every day, and one can’t even hold a rally.
Also, as we noted, Amash didn’t launch his exploratory committee until after the Libertarian Party had held all of its primaries and caucuses. In addition, there was some resistance inside the party to his entry into the race.
Mark Whitney, founder of TheLaw.net and a comedian, griped that “if this asshole Justin Amash comes over, if he’s the nominee I will not support him.” Whitney insists that the “Party of Principles should stop nominating criminals from [a] criminal organization” like the GOP who “come over last minute” to take advantage of the L.P.’s money and activists and then leave it in the lurch—”stop nominating these [former Republican] pricks!”
While Amash has been a staunch conservative, Tea Party star, and cofounder of the Freedom Caucus in the House, he has also been a critic of Trump’s overreach. That has made him popular with traditional Republicans, who are looking for a way to wrestle the party back from Trump. But it has also made him popular with many Democrats, so his potential bid was seen as detracting from presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s bid, according to CNBC.
“I like Justin. I love democracy. But I do think a 3rd party run increases the chances of Trump’s re-election,” tweeted Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential primary candidate. . . “We don’t know who people will vote for. It’s impossible to say whether more people will vote for Biden or Trump if I’m in the race or not in the race,” Amash said. . .
George Conway, a conservative Trump critic and husband of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted: “Needless to say, my views align more closely with Amash’s than Biden’s. But the only real effect Amash could have in this campaign is to enhance Trump’s chances. This is a terrible idea.”
A Detroit News poll suggested that Amash might have taken ten percent of the Michigan vote (at a time when most people didn’t know he was considering running for president). That would put Michigan in play—a state that went for Trump by three cat whiskers in 2016—and which Real Clear Politics says is currently going for Biden by only 5.5%.
Now that Amash has decided to end his presidential bid, he may now focus on keeping his House seat. That will be an uphill battle since the Western Michigan Republican political machine won’t back him this year. That group includes the Chamber of Commerce and Betsy DeVos’ family, with a fortune derived from the Amway corporation, a super-rich multi-level marketer, often considered a pyramid scheme.
Other funding that won’t be going his way is the Meijer family, which founded Meijer, Inc., the grocery chain, with stores throughout the Midwest. That money will be going to a family member, Peter Meijer, who is running for the Republican nomination for Amash’s seat.
Likewise, the libertarian Club for Growth plans to back a Republican candidate, despite its philosophical affinity for Amash, and his drive for cutting spending—not a Trump priority, even before the coronavirus crisis.
While Amash handily won the seat as a Republican since 2010, Ballotopedia notes that it is not a sure thing for a Republican. Seats are listed as “safe” or “solid.” Below that rating is “likely.” The third level is “leaning,” and finally “tossup.”
Cook Political Report and Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzalez put Amash’ district as “leaning Republican,” Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball calls it “toss up.”
While Trump took the district in 2016, it should be noted that Barack Obama won there in 2012. With the publicity of his presidential bid, Amash certainly is top-of-mind in the district.