West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has declared his independence on Independence Day, and announced that he is leaving the Republican Party. Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the caucus Amash left earlier this year. It's the Freedom Caucus that he helped start in the House.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the five term Representative says he has voted for Republicans, ran for office and served as a Republican because he believes in “limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty.” Amash says “Modern politics is trapped in a death spiral, but there is an escape.” The Congressman says he is asking readers to believe “that we do better than this two party system.” Amash concludes by saying “If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”
Amash’s district includes Calhoun, Barry and Ionia Counties, most of Kent County and part of Montcalm County. He was first elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the Tea Party movement. Recently, Amash has clashed with fellow Republicans. He resigned from the Freedom Caucus that he helped found in the House. Amash is the lone Republican to say that President Trump committed impeachable offenses. Last week, his fellow Republicans in the Michigan delegation criticized his votes on defense spending, saying it hurt efforts to get a missile defense installation at Fort Custer near Battle Creek. Amash fired back on Twitter saying “Taxpayer dollars should be used to boost Americans’ safety, not boost politicians.”
President Trump took to Twitter to call Amash's decision "Great news for the Republican party." He also said Amash knew he couldn't win the nomination again for his seat.
At least Four Republicans had announced that they were planning to, or considering challenging Amash in the primary for his House seat next year. Now those candidates (and possibly more) will compete for the Republican nomination without an incumbent. Amash has not said if he plans to run for re-election in 2020. He has left the door open to running for President as a Libertarian.