I thought this wouldn’t happen for a few more months, until Amash announces he’s running for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. Oh well:
See you soon Justin… I hear Michigan is beautiful during primary season. https://t.co/dZzDU9240V
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 13, 2019
The reply made me laugh:
if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer https://t.co/KmtA2khvLs
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) June 13, 2019
Everyone who followed Russiagate knows that reference, I assume.
The news value in this exchange is that it all but guarantees the White House will openly support a primary challenger to Amash, right? There was some uncertainty about that in Politico’s report yesterday about Trump’s unhappiness with the congressman. Amash remains friendly, sort of, with the Trump fans in the Freedom Caucus despite having recently left the group so maybe they’d object privately to POTUS targeting Amash in a primary — although probably not, as they didn’t seem to object when he targeted Mark Sanford. I think the FC’s relationship to POTUS at this point is like the parents’ relationship to the little boy in that old Twilight Zone episode starring Billy Mumy. If they complain about something he’s done, he might wish them away into the cornfield too.
Amash told The Hill in an interview that he’s not ruling out anything, but he sounds disinclined to undertake a presidential candidacy that’ll achieve little except marginally increase a big-government liberal’s chances of winning the White House.
“I have no interest in playing spoiler. When I run for something, I run to win,” the Michigan Republican told The Hill on Wednesday as he descended the steps of the Capitol toward his office…
“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,” Amash said in Wednesday’s interview. “I don’t really worry about any of that stuff. 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 to the party or to any one person. 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.”
Normally it’s a no-brainer for an incumbent congressman to stick with his party, try to sweat out a tough primary, and hopefully emerge as the party’s nominee. In Amash’s case, I’m not sure that’s true. A GOP House primary may be unwinnable at this point and, even if he pulled through, the Trumpist faction in his district might vote Democratic next fall out of spite. He may be unelectable — as a Republican. If he ran as an independent, he’d spare himself the primary and could advertise his general-election bid to both sides as a referendum on whether Congress needs to be bolder in confronting the president. That would be a tough race to win too, with Democratic and Republican voters each reluctant to squander their party’s chance to win a three-way race, but if anyone could make it competitive it’s a candidate who’s voted with left and right at times as their agendas overlap with libertarianism and who’s created a national profile for himself as a rare right-winger willing to support impeachment. I think he may have a marginally better chance of winning as an independent with a plurality of the vote than of surviving a primary and consolidating GOPers in a general election.
Out of curiosity, I looked up Amash’s legislative “score” on key policy votes among various right-wing policy shops. He’s at 86 percent at Heritage Action, 90 percent (an “A” grade) at Conservative Review, and 100 percent at FreedomWorks. It amuses me that the guy who’s about to be cast out of the party for heresy is by any measure one of the most true-blue small-government believers in Congress, the rare Republican who hasn’t softened up about federal power during his time on Capitol Hill. That is, the White House lacks even the pretense that Amash is being targeted for principled policy reasons. He’s going to the cornfield simply because he won’t say, “It’s a good thing that you obstructed justice, Anthony.”