The stunning announcement on Monday that Rep. Dave Camp will not seek re-election after 24 years in Congress has Republicans in Michigan's Fourth District huddling on whom to back as a successor in the August primary.
"The filing deadline to run is April 22 — three weeks away," Bill Ballenger, editor of the influential Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, told Newsmax. "The party leadership is no doubt meeting tonight and because of the timing, some decisions are going to have to be made in hours — not days, but hours."
With Camp, 60, "termed out" this year as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, many speculated last year about his possible retirement from the House.
But the congressman's recent unveiling of the tax reform package that he had long worked on and his active role in the investigation of IRS abuse led most observers to think he had decided to run again.
"Like the news Friday that Mike Rogers was retiring, this report on Dave Camp leaving is a shock," Henry Payne, editorial staffer for the Detroit News, told Newsmax. Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also is a Michigan Republican.
"When we talked to both Rogers and Camp about a possible Senate race this year, they both said they probably wouldn't do it because they were doing so much in the House," Payne said.
Given the dominance of the city of Midland in the Fourth District, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that the Republican candidate will come from the place that is home to Dow Chemical.
The name most frequently mentioned is state Sen. John Moolenaar of Midland. A former state representative who is well-connected in the business community, Moolenaar is considered a conservative in the mold of Camp.
Also mentioned are two brothers named Stamas: Tony, who preceded Moolenaar in the state Senate and now works on the Legislature staff, and Jim, restaurant owner and now majority floor leader in the state House of Representatives.
Another possibility is state Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant, a highly regarded conservative.
But Cotter, a protégé of former Republican Gov. John Engler, is considered the front-runner to be speaker in the next legislative session and would have to switch quickly from a re-election race to a bid for Congress.
The Fourth District, which has been in Republican hands for 30 years, is almost certain to stay Republican, regardless of who the GOP nominee is.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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