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Who’s running for U.S. Senate in Michigan: Justin Amash considers bid

  • Former Michigan U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, who quit the GOP in 2019, says he’s considering a Republican run for U.S. Senate
  • Amash joins a GOP field that includes former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer, former Detroit police chief James Craig, State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, Sandy Pensler, Michael Hoover, Sherry O'Donnell, Alexandria Taylor and J.D. Wilson
  • Democratic field features U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, actor Hill Harper, Nasser Beydoun, Zack Burns

LANSING — More than three years after he quit the Republican Party, former Michigan U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is considering a GOP bid for the U.S. Senate being vacated by retiring Democrat Debbie Stabenow. 

Amash represented the Grand Rapid area in the U.S. House for a decade through 2020, when he opted against seeking re-election after leaving the GOP and declaring then-President Donald Trump had committed impeachable offenses. 

Amash flirted with a 2020 presidential run on the Libertarian ticket but announced Thursday he is forming and exploratory committee as he contemplates another Republican run.

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"I’ve been humbled in recent weeks by the many people who have urged me to run for Senate in Michigan and to do so by joining the Republican primary," he wrote on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. 

"They see what I see: contenders for the seat who are uninspired, unserious and unprepared to tackle the chief impediment to liberty and economic prosperity — an overgrown and abusive government that strives to centralize power and snuff out individualism. The people of Michigan and our country deserve better."

Amash did not give a timeline for when he will decide whether to launch a formal campaign. If he runs, he would join a crowded field vying to succeed Stabenow, who has held the seat since 2001 after unseating incumbent Republican Spencer Abraham.

As of January, four Democrats and nine Republicans have declared for the August primary. Candidates can still join — or leave — the race by the spring filing deadline. But here's who's in so far:

Democrats

Nasser Beydoun: The Dearborn businessman is a restaurant owner and former chair of the American Arab Chamber of Congress. Beydoun describes himself as a political moderate and civil rights advocate. He is the son of a Lebanese immigrant who found his footing in Michigan as a UAW member, according to Beydoun's campaign. 

Zack Burns: An attorney from Ann Arbor, Burns entered the race in April with a promise to focus on affordable housing, health care, education and training. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and The University of California, Irvine, according to his campaign. 

Hill Harper: An actor known for his roles on “The Good Doctor” and “CSI: NY,” Harper is also an attorney, single father, author and coffee shop owner. The son of two doctors, Harper was born in Iowa and moved to Detroit in 2016. He is a graduate of Harvard University. A cancer survivor, Harper in 2012 was appointed to a cancer panel by then-President Barack Obama.

Elissa Slotkin: The current U.S. representative for Michigan's 7th District, Slotkin has served in Congress since 2019 and currently lives in Lansing. She previously worked as a Department of Defense official and analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. Born in New York but raised in Oakland County, Slotkin has degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. 

Republicans

James Craig: The former Detroit police chief, Craig was a front-runner for the GOP nomination for governor last year but failed to make the ballot after the state determined he was among five candidates who had submitted fraudulent signatures on nominating petitions. Craig retired from the Detroit Police Department in 2021 and is running as a law-and-order Republican.

Michael Hoover: A businessman who previously worked at Dow Chemical, Hoover lives in Laingsburg in Shiawassee County and is a first-time candidate for political office. His focus is on strong families, fiscal responsibility, educational freedom, middle-class prosperity and government accountability, according to his campaign. 

Peter Meijer: A former U.S. Representative, the Grand Rapids Republican in 2022 lost his bid for a second term in Congress after voting to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting Capitol riots. Meijer is a veteran who conducted intelligence operations in Iraq.  He attended West Point before transferring to and graduating from Columbia University, and is a member of the Meijer family that owns the Michigan-based superstore chain.

Sherry O'Donnell: A physician, pastor and author from Stevensville, in Berrien County, O'Donnell champions "medical freedom" and opposes a "government takeover of healthcare," among other things, according to her website. She has never held elected office but ran for Congress last year, losing to incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in a 5th District GOP primary. 

Sandy Pensler: The Grosse Pointe Park businessman announced his campaign in December, declaring that America “is burning” so it’s time to “take responsibility and fight like hell.” Pensler, who founded a private investment firm that has operated manufacturing plants attempted to challenge Stabenow in 2018 but lost in the GOP primary after spending $5 million of his own money.

Mike Rogers: The Livingston County Republican represented Michigan's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House through 2014. In announcing his campaign, Rogers said he thought he had "put politics behind me" but was inspired to run for U.S. Senate because "something is broken."  He recently moved back to Michigan from Florida, is a former FBI special agent and chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Nikki Snyder: A registered nurse from Dexter, Snyder has served on the Michigan State Board of Education since 2016, when she was the second-highest vote getter in the general election. Snyder describes herself as a "freedom-loving patriot" and wants a Parent's Bill of Rights to ensure they have a strong role in their children's education. 

Alexandria Taylor: A former Democrat from Romulus, Taylor is an attorney who last year worked on a failed Republican lawsuit that sought to invalidate all mail-in ballots from Detroit. She holds degrees from Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and Detroit Mercy universities, according to her campaign, which says she is focused on "family, faith and freedom."

J.D. Wilson: A political newcomer, Wilson is a businessman from the Houghton Lake area in Roscommon County who describes himself as a "constitutional conservative." On his campaign website, Wilson says that in the U.S. Senate he would work to cut taxes, put the federal government on “a diet" and fight inflation, which he calls a "war on middle class families."

Who's not running anymore?

Leslie Love: The former state lawmaker from Detroit announced Jan. 18 that she had suspended her campaign for U.S. Senate, which she had announced back in May 2023. “While this chapter may be ending, the fight and the light for a better future continues,” she said in a statement.

Pamela Pugh: The Democratic president of the State Board of Education was running for U.S. Senate but announced on Nov. 27 she will instead run for the U.S. House in the 8th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Dan Kildee, who is not seeking re-election. 

Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:10 a.m. Dec. 4 to clarify that Peter Meijer attended, but did not graduate from, West Point. 

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