House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4) confirms that he has made an about-face and is seriously considering running for Michigan’s open US Senate seat. Back in March when Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014, Rep. Camp immediately declined to run statewide, preferring to concentrate on his duties in the House and driving tax reform proposals.
Now, the 11-term representative himself, as well as several people close to him, acknowledge that there is a distinct possibility he may oppose consensus 2014 Democratic candidate Gary Peters, a fellow Michigan congressman, for Levin’s seat.
Currently, former two-term Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is the only announced significant Republican candidate. Her response to the pending Camp candidacy was a bit unusual and spread speculation that she might withdraw in favor of the north-central state congressman. Land stated, in non-committal fashion, that she will “wait to see what happens” when asked if she would oppose Camp in a Republican senatorial primary.
So far, most political observers view Land as a weak candidate despite her winning two previous statewide campaigns. She has made no significant strides on the fundraising circuit. On the other hand, Camp, with over $3 million in his political account, has a perch to raise whatever he needs to run a competitive Wolverine State campaign. The race instantly becomes more interesting and aggressively fought if he were to become a candidate.
For his part, Rep. Peters (D-MI-14) has raised $1.42 million for the year, and reports just under $1.8 million cash-on-hand. Michigan normally trends Democratic, so Peters is thought to have the advantage in a normal election year, but we have to turn the clock back only three years to see a major Republican landslide sweep, so a GOP Senate victory certainly must be considered a viable possibility.
In order to compete for the majority, the Republicans must put more seats in play, and enticing a strong candidate such as Rep. Camp into the race would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. It remains to be seen just how serious his considerations are, but if he were to run the open Michigan Senate race would become a top tier campaign.