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Dave Camp

Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) announced on Friday that he will not be entering the race for Senator Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Senate seat when he retires in 2014, disappointing conservatives who hoped that the open seat would be within reach after Levin’s retirement announcement in March.

“I have decided not to run for the United States Senate,” Camp said in his announcement. “I will continue to put my full focus and effort on serving my constituents in mid- and northern Michigan.”

Immediately after Levin’s retirement notice, National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brad Dayspring optimistically wrote that “over the last few months, the 2014 map has gone from sorta difficult to really tough for Senate Democrats. Politically, Senator Levin’s decision knocks a Democratic Senate already on defense far back on their heels and offers us a real pickup opportunity.” Dayspring continued, “Republicans can win in Michigan, as the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General have proven. That is why we’ve been speaking to local officials and grassroots organizations in preparation for Senator Levin’s potential retirement, and now that groundwork will start to pay off.”

The first step to winning the seat, however, is to put forward a viable candidate to run against Representative Gary Peters (D-MI), who officially jumped into the race in early May. So far Republicans have been unable to do that, and without Camp the pool of electable candidates is running dry.

Tim Alberta of The National Journal explains, “Already this year, several well-known Republicans—including Rep. Mike Rogers, the party’s preferred candidate—have declined to run for Michigan’s open Senate seat. Camp was viewed as the best remaining option to run against Rep. Gary Peters, the de facto Democratic nominee. Now Michigan Republicans will choose from a decidedly mediocre primary field led by former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.”

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) was approached by Republicans and asked to run but turned down the request. Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) has also been asked to run but has not yet commented on the matter.

Republicans do have one candidate running to replace Senator Levin. Terri Lynn Land has announced her candidacy, but even Republicans question how successful she can be. Early polls show Land trailing Peters — raising the question of whether the GOP has a chance in a state that President Obama won by 10 percent in 2012.

Photo: Michael.Jolley via Flickr.com

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