Amash Departure Sets Up GOP Primary

Jul 30, 2020

Michigan Congressman Justin Amash (R-Ada) addresses a town hall meeting in Battle Creek in this February 2017 file photo
Credit Chris Killian / WMUK

Republicans are looking for someone to replace Congressman Justin Amash in Michigan's Third District that includes Battle Creek.


Amash left the GOP in 2019 after calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. He later decided not to seek re-election to Congress. That followed a ten-year congressional career in which he frequently parted company with other Republicans on a variety of issues. Amash flirted with a bid for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination in 2020 but ended that effort only about a month after it began.

Now, five candidates are running in the Republican primary August 4 for the chance to succeed Amash in Washington.

Brian McVicar, a reporter at MLive and the Grand Rapids Press, says two candidates lead the field: Peter Meijer and Lynn Afendoulis. Meijer is an heir to the supermarket chain still run by his family. Afendoulis is a state representative finishing her first term in Lansing.

The other contenders are Army veteran Tom Norton, a salesman for a gutter protection company; business transaction attorney Emily Rafi of Battle Creek; and Ionia County business owner Joe Farrington. Rafi initially entered the race as a Democrat but then switch her party affiliation.

McVicar says Meijer and Afendoulis have both raised much more money than any of the other candidates. He says there isn't a lot of difference between them on the issues. But McVicar says there is a difference in approach for the frontrunners.

"I think Lynn has really tried to cast herself as the true conservative in the race and made more of an open appeal to President Trump's base, whereas Peter Meijer has been a little bit softer, or not as hard-edged, on some of those issues."

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney in Grand Rapids. McVicar says Scholten has raised significantly more money in the Republican-leaning district than other Democrats have in the past. And he says Democrats think that gives them a shot at turning a "purple" district "blue."