It took just 48 hours for a fellow Republican to jump on the opportunity to run against Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-03) after he tweeted out of the blue that President Donald Trump “has engaged in impeachable conduct.” Or at least that’s the story that our national media told.
Amash, in fact, has actually had a primary opponent since April in Republican Tom Norton, whose campaign was built less in reaction to “Twitter comments,” and more so on a “careful consideration of Justin Amash’s record and ineffectiveness as a congressman,” as Norton’s campaign manager, Ivan Assenov, put it.
One area where Norton believes his opponent has been particularly ineffective is in helping veterans, and Michigan’s Third Congressional District has a lot of them.
“Amash’s record shows a lack of concern for veterans issues. In a district with 50,000-plus veterans and 22 a day committing suicide nationally, this is simply unacceptable,” Assenov told The Ohio Star. “Tom Norton has volunteered his time, knowledge, and experience to help Amash’s office with veterans issues after they came to Tom because their congressman turned them away. Tom was also turned away.”
Norton himself is a veteran, and served in Afghanistan during his six-year career in the National Guard. According to his campaign, he “already runs an effective veterans outreach program even without the authority of being their congressman.” He helped found the West Michigan Veterans Ranch, a retreat for service members that helps them transition back into civilian life, and currently serves as its legislative liaison.
He announced his campaign for Congress on April 26, long before Amash came out in support of impeachment proceedings. But the media jumped on State Rep. Jim Lower’s (R-Montcalm County) campaign announcement, even though Lower seemingly has yet to file for candidacy.
“We aren’t even sure if Jim Lower is filed as a candidate yet, though he is asking for donations,” Assenov said.
The Federal Election Commission as of May 23 didn’t show any results for Lower’s campaign or any related campaign committees.
“There are only two official candidates in the Third District, but the press wants to push another swamp dweller. How about an Afghanistan war vet to help fight the swamp?” Norton wrote on Twitter.
There are only two official #Candidates in the 3rd district @ForNorton @justinamash , but the press wants to push another #Swamp dweller. @realDonaldTrump. How about a #afganistan war vet to help fight the #Swamp. pic.twitter.com/Vd8bnIwTqj
— Tom Norton for Congress (@ForNorton) May 20, 2019
“Jim is also a suspiciously recent resident of the district,” Assenov pointed out. According to a recent article in MLive, Lower lived in Ceder Lake up until recently, which is in Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District. He has, however, purchased a house in Greenville, which is in the Third District, but is still in the process of moving in, a campaign adviser said.
Lower quickly ran into some trouble after announcing his campaign when he claimed on his website that he “paid for his own education and supported himself by working full-time while getting both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.”
“Why does Lower say he paid for his own education when it was literally my pop who paid his tuition in full? And to then pretend like he did it on his own?” a family friend, John Calley, wrote on Facebook, according to The Detroit News.
“We’ll get it updated. I believe the team was trying to make the point that I come from a working class background. In the lead up to the announcement, it got missed,” Lower said in response.
In any case, Amash will face at least two primary opponents, though some think that Norton’s got the better chance of winning because of his support among veterans. Amash is already starting to pay the political price for his impeachment comments. The DeVos family (as in Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) has long been a kingmaker in Michigan politics, but announced last week that it would be ending its financial support of Amash.
“Impeachment proceedings, whether successful or not, have very serious consequences for the nation and should never be used for attention and personal gain,” Assenov told The Ohio Star. “Amash wanted to divide the vote against Tom so he could hold office. It’s a political stunt, not an act of conscience. Tom Norton supports a president who is the most pro-life president in history, who puts American citizens before illegal immigrants, and who defends the greatest nation on earth without an apology.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Justin Amash” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Tom Norton” by Tom Norton.