Justin Amash, a threat to Trump 2020?
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) made a news splash by being the only Republican in Congress to call for the impeachment of the president. This will not be the last we hear from him.
Amash says he's a libertarian as opposed to being a libertarian-leaning Republican. Contrast him to Rand Paul, who has principle and can still work with the president on a host of issues. Not Amash. He never supported President Trump, according to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Why would Amash jeopardize his political career by being a Republican outlier in a district that went heavily for Trump in 2016? Amash says it is a matter of principle. Maybe, but there are also political calculations involved.
There's the matter of redistricting. Michigan has 14 House seats and will likely lose one when new district maps are drawn after the 2020 census. Most observers think Amash's district will be redrawn to make it hard for him to win re-election. And Amash has already drawn a Trump-supporting primary challenger for 2020. Finally, Amash's donor base is drying up.
Amash is of Palestinian and Syrian decent. This could be an unstated reason why he vehemently opposes a pro-Israel president. Then there are Amash's business dealings. He receives from $100,000 to a million dollars a year from his ownership in a company that manufactures in China and exports back into the U.S. Given this, Amash cannot personally look favorably on Trump criticizing such outsourcing behavior and working to stop it.
Amash's future in the GOP and by extension Congress diminishes by the day. He may jump to the Libertarian Party, where a concerted effort is being made by the party leadership to recruit him for 2020.
Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark is not alone in his enthusiasm to have Amash come aboard. Bill Kristol of the failed Weekly Standard and David French of National Review are filled with joy at such a prospect. French tweeted, "If Trump is the GOP nominee, I'd vote for Amash as the LP nominee in a heartbeat." No doubt he would.
One of the main reasons the Libertarians are courting Amash is the complete lack of gravitas among those who have thus far declared for the party's nomination. Should Amash be the L.P. candidate, it's not inconceivable that the anti-Trump Koch network will support him with sizable donations for his campaign. Recall that David H. Koch was the Libertarian vice presidential candidate in 1980.
Right now, the political winds are blowing in Trump's favor. But in politics, nothing can be taken for granted. In Michigan, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a mere 11,000 votes in 2016. The danger is that Amash on the ballot could tip that critical state to the Democrat in 2020. Remember, Gary Johnson received 9.3 percent of the vote in his home state of New Mexico running as the Libertarian standard-bearer in 2016. So could Amash play the role of spoiler against Trump in his home state of Michigan? Probably not, but that's the hope of the Libertarians and the #NeverTrumpers.
In any case, Amash is a latent threat who should not be ignored.