LANSING, Michigan — US Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who backed the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, is officially not running for reelection.
Amash, the first person of Palestinian descent to serve in the US Congress, had suspended his congressional campaign in February and later explored seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. Thursday was Michigan’s deadline to run as an independent, though some were also holding out hope he might seek the Libertarians’ nomination at a state convention Saturday.
“I love representing our community in Congress. I always will,” Amash tweeted. “This is my choice, but I’m still going to miss it.”
Amash, 40, initially became an independent a year ago after becoming disenchanted with partisan politics. He has represented Michigan’s 3rd Congressional district in the western part of the state since 2011.
When he announced last July in an op-ed in the Washington Post that he was leaving the Republican Party, Amash said he was “frightened by what I see from” partisanship.
Amash noted his father, a Palestinian refugee from Bethlehem, “would remind my brothers and me of the challenges he faced before coming here and how fortunate we were to be Americans.”
He drew ire from US President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans when he said the president had engaged in impeachable conduct as described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Trump has called Amash a “total loser.”
Amash has long been seen as a libertarian Republican and an outspoken party contrarian. He was mentored in his earliest political runs by former representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican and perennial GOP presidential candidate who made a name for himself as the party’s foundational libertarian.
Amash is believed to favor a lower US profile overseas. That view led him to vote against an act that would enhance the US response to emerging or potential genocides, and against a Republican-led bill that pressured the Trump administration to appoint an anti-Semitism envoy.
Amash initiated eminent domain legislation that would make it tougher to build Trump’s wall with Mexico and been lacerating in his assessment of the president’s choice for attorney general, William Barr. He pointed to Barr’s record during the George W. Bush administration of defending warrantless eavesdropping.