Rep. Justin Amash: First Republican in Congress to call for impeachment will face primary challenge

State Rep. Jim Lower will run against Amash in the GOP primary for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 20, 2019 12:00PM (EDT)

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) (AP/Carlos Osorio)
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) (AP/Carlos Osorio)

Rep. Justin Amash, who this weekend became the first congressional Republican to call for President Donald Trump's impeachment, already faces a primary challenge next year.

Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, announced Monday morning that he would run against Amash in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, according to the Detroit Free Press. Although Lower claimed that he had been planning to mount a primary challenge to Amash before the Michigan congressman said he supports impeaching Trump, Amash's announcement accelerated the timetable for Lower's announcement.

"Congressman Justin Amash['s] tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents. He must be replaced and I am going to do it," Lower told the newspaper in a statement, adding that he was a "pro-Trump" Republican.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Amash argued the following: "1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report."

He later added, "In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings. Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice."

Amash, who has long identified as a libertarian-leaning conservative, has parted ways with the Trump administration before, including through his opposition to the war on drugs and his support for more liberal immigration policies. He has also frequently positioned himself as being above partisanship, pinning a quote from George Washington to the top of his Twitter account reading, "Let me now . . . warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally."

Indeed, Amash's libertarian bent has caused many members of the Libertarian Party to urge him to seek their party's presidential nomination — something that Amash has not ruled out.

"Many Libertarian Party members have been publicly encouraging Representative Amash to seek the 2020 nomination. Of all the members of Congress, his positions seem to most closely match those of the Libertarian Party, so he would likely have a base of support within the party if he joins the contest that will be decided in Austin next May," Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark told Salon by email Sunday.

He added that there are a number of issues where libertarians disagree with the president, including "immigration, free trade, the national debt, his support for the racist war on drugs and his support for Saudi Arabia and their bombing of Yemen with our munitions. We have applauded his statements about getting out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but haven't seen any meaningful follow through yet."

The Libertarian Party's last presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, garnered three percent of the popular vote against Trump and the Democratic Party's nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in 2016.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2020 Congressional Elections All Salon Donald Trump Impeachment Jim Lower Justin Amash News & Politics