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Friday, April 24, 2020
Rumors Swirl Around Justin Amash
2020 is shaping up to be a repeat of 2016 with two immensely unpopular candidates. As both Donald Trump and Joe Biden underwhelm potential voters, many eyes have been casting sidelong glances at Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman who left the GOP last year.
Amash has long been rumored to be considering a presidential run but has played coy about the decision. If he plans to run, time to set up a campaign is running short, however.
Enter the reports that Amash has joined the Libertarian Party and is planning an imminent announcement. The speculation started with an unconfirmed posting on Reddit last Wednesday that claimed Amash had “purchased a Lifetime membership to the Libertarian Party and will announce his campaign shortly.” The rumor was picked up by the Ballot Access News, which also reported that former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura may seek the Green Party nomination.
That unconfirmed Reddit report followed an April 18 report by The Liberty Herald which cited “inside sources” who said that Amash would make an announcement “next week.” That week is almost up and as yet there has been no announcement either way by Amash.
The Libertarian convention is scheduled to be held in Austin from May 21-25. If Amash is really planning to run as a Libertarian, an announcement would come by the end of the convention at the absolute latest.
Amash has already filed to run as an independent in Michigan’s third district where he is the incumbent congressman. There is no public polling in the district, but Politico rates the seat as a tossup.
If Amash does throw his hat in the ring for the White House, it would not upend the race immediately. A recent Morning Consult poll, one of the few to include the potential outside challenger, found that one percent of voters would back Amash. Still, one percent is pretty good for an undeclared independent candidate.
Interestingly, Amash seemed to draw equally from Trump and Biden. The poll results showed that Biden would win by four points with (46-42-1 percent) Amash in the race or without (47-43 percent). The bigger question is how Amash would change the Electoral College race in the battleground states which include his native Michigan.
As the poll shows, Amash has the potential to draw from both Trump and Biden voters. Many Republicans are not thrilled with Trump but won’t vote for a pro-choice liberal. Likewise, many Democrats aren’t excited about Biden but view him as infinitely more preferable than a second Trump term. Amash is pro-life, pro-gun, fiscally conservative, and has been a staunch critic of Donald Trump.
If Amash enters the race, it would come at a time when the major party nominees represent a national emergency in themselves. President Trump has shown himself to both corrupt and incompetent. After four years in office, with the sudden implosion of the economy, the president has nothing to run on except to attack Joe Biden.
For his part, Biden has a long record of gaffes but they seem to be getting worse. The former vice president’s misstatements make even Democrats wonder if age-related cognitive decline make him unsuited for office.
In a debate setting, the 40-year-old Amash would demolish both Trump and Biden. Whether this year’s campaign will include debates is an open question at this point, however.
With a bad economy and the worst two candidates since… well, since the last election, the time would seem to be ripe for a third-party candidate. And Amash and the Libertarian Party would seem to be a good match for each other. The constitutionalist congressman is a small “l” libertarian-conservative with good name recognition, charismatic speaking ability, and a reputation for sanity, honesty, and integrity. For its part, the Libertarian Party has an established grass-roots network in every state that such a candidate could step into at short notice.
But again, time is growing short for a relatively unknown candidate from a relatively unknown party to take on two heavyweights from the two established parties. If Amash wants to have a realistic shot at the presidency (even as a long shot), he needs to start his campaign soon.
It seems that no announcement is forthcoming this week. If we don’t hear from Amash soon, his failure to decide will represent a choice not to run.