Representative Justin Amash, a five-term Libertarian-leaning congressman, is currently rising as a potential threat to President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
It is currently undecided if Amash will make a presidential bid, but after earning attention as the only Republican in Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment, he has the potential to snag away tens of thousands of votes from a re-election-seeking Trump.
Although Amash says he has no interest in simply “playing spoiler.” Instead, he boasts, “When I run for something, I run to win.”
Still, many GOP members are worried that an appealing third-party candidate could yield disastrous results for the Republican party. They believe an Amash candidacy could be enough to hand the White House to the Democratic nominee.
The areas of highest concern for the Republican party vying to stay in office are Rust Belt states. States such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin played a vital role in Trump winning the 2016 election. Should Amash decide to run, it looks as if split voting between Republican supporters could swing the election in favor of the Democratic party.
“I respect Libertarians, I like them a lot,” said Representative Doug LaMalfa of California. “But it doesn’t take away from the Democrats. It will take away from the conservative viewpoint and that hurts our side.”
“I don’t have anything against (Amash), but when people do this stuff, all it does is tear down the ability of Republicans to unite,” LaMalfa continued. “Maybe it’s some sort of vendetta against Trump.”
Likewise, Representative Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), called an Amash presidential bid “political suicide.”
But some of Amash’s close friends and colleagues in Congress predict that he will not run for office next year.
Other perspectives argue that recent headlines featuring the lawmaker are a sure sign that he is planning to announce a presidential bid.
In May 2019, Amash boldly stated that President Trump had participated in “impeachable conduct.” This made him the first Republican lawmaker to suggest that a Trump impeachment would be just.
As if impeachment claims had not already been enough to shake up Congress, earlier this month, The Hill reported that Amash had resigned from the House Freedom Caucus, which he helped launch four years ago alongside Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other conservatives. The caucus has stood for reduced federal spending, limited government and protecting the Constitution.
This departure from The House Freedom Caucus came after Amash’s mounting frustrations that many of its members continued to display undying blind loyalty to Trump, no matter the cost.
“It’s certainly sad. It’s not like a happy moment to leave a group I helped found,” Amash said. “But I felt it was the right move under the circumstances.”
He says he remains friends with Jordan, Meadows, and others in the Freedom Caucus.
A new poll out this week showed Amash trailing little-known GOP challenger Jim Lower, whom Trump appears to be planning to back this election season, by 16 points.
Despite the threat of a serious challenge, Amash confidently holds firm on his ideals and interests.
“I’ve spent my whole time in office under fire from different people, so it doesn’t worry me. I’ve had multiple elections where people thought I was the underdog and won by large margins,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I’m doing, in the American people, and especially the people in my district.”
“First, I’m not going to lose, and second, I don’t have any regrets about doing the right thing,” he added, referring to a House race. “I didn’t run for office to sell out my principles…I’ve promised the people of my district I would operate in a certain way, uphold the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, fight for limited government and liberty, and that’s what I’m doing.”