Rep. Amash quits GOP, saying that U.S. is in a ‘partisan death spiral’
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of west Michigan on Thursday morning quit the Republican Party, saying that extreme partisanship in Washington and across the U.S. has “evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”
In an opinion piece written for the Washington Post, Amash — who is the only Republican in Congress to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment — said he would serve as an independent and called on other Americans to abandon party labels and reject “the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us.”
His office confirmed later in the morning that he plans to run for re-election in his Republican-leaning district, centered around Grand Rapids, as an independent.
“The founders envisioned Congress as a deliberative body in which outcomes are discovered,” Amash wrote in the opinion piece. “We are fast approaching the point, however, where Congress exists as little more than a formality to legitimize outcomes dictated by the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader.”
“Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape,” he said.
At midnight, Amash, now I-Cascade Township, also posted on Twitter a photo of the Declaration of Independence with the note, “Happy Birthday, America.”
Possibly because the surprise announcement was made early on a holiday morning, reaction was slow to come in, though Trump weighed in, calling Amash’s departure “Great news for the Republican Party” and calling the congressman “one of the ... most disloyal men in Congress.”
Amash didn’t comment directly on his political future in the piece but a reporter for Michigan Radio and NPR caught up with him at a parade in Grand Rapids and he said he planned to run for reelection as an independent.
“I’ve been thinking about it for awhile,” Amash said. His office confirmed his decision a short time later.
He says he’s still running in #MI03, but as an independent.
With several other Republicans and Democrats already in the race, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political handicapping site at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, declared the seat up for grabs if Amash, a five-term incumbent, ran as an independent.
In earlier remarks, Amash had also not ruled out a run for president, though neither had he indicated very strongly that he was looking to make such a run. His decision to run for re-election appeared to make that unlikely.
In May, Amash became the first — and so far only — Republican in Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment, saying he reached that conclusion after reading the entirety of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the last presidential election and possible obstruction of justice claims.