Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 4, 2013

George Weeks: Dave Camp considers Senate race


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Two of the most influential congressmen on Capitol Hill have been in the media mix for the 2014 Republican nomination to run for the open seat of retiring Democrat Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator.

One declined. The other, as of this writing, was pondering.

Seven-term 8th District Rep. Mike Rogers of Howell, who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has been on the national stage as a key player on a variety of security and foreign policy issues highlighted by Sunday closing of 21 U.S embassies and a worldwide travel alert over concern of terrorist threats, had considerable media hype for the run but declined.

Rogers, a former FBI agent and state senator, said: “I would have to unplug between now and election … and that wouldn’t have been fair to the committee. Given everything that’s going on in the world, I just felt it really important to focus on what I know I was having an impact on.”

Twelve-term 4th District Rep. Dave Camp of Midland, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and leader with Sen. Baucus, D-Mont., his Senate counterpart, in an effort to simplify and otherwise improve the tax code, also had long signaled a reluctance for the 2014 Senate race as he had for earlier ones.

But last week, Camp, who already has a sizable war chest, told Politico (in a quote confirmed by his office to both Detroit dailies as an indication of where he is regarding the race): “It’s a big decision, and I’m going to look at it carefully and thoughtfully.”

Camp’s dipping of toes in the water surprised me. But while the security/foreign issues that Rogers’s committee is dealing with will linger into 2014 and beyond, the more immediate tax reform issue facing Camp/Baucus could come to a head late this year when Congress returns in September from its recess.

Another top issue on Camp’s agenda is a finding by his committee that the IRS may have inappropriately shared confidential tax information with other agencies. Camp said: “The facts are very clear — not only were conservative groups targeted by the IRS, but they received much higher scrutiny than progressives.”

Meanwhile, as Camp ponders, both parties already have credible and formidable declared candidates for the Levin seat.

Former two-term Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, now Michigan’s Republican National Committeewoman, twice led the GOP ticket in votes, and she brags

“in one case even outpaced the Democrat top of the ticket” — exceeding Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2002, 1,703,261 to 1,633,796.

Three-term 9th District congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township in Oakland County, a 1995-2002 state senator and 2003-07 Michigan Lottery Commissioner, appears to have a lock on the Democratic Senate nomination.

Snyder’s Yo-Yo

Governors, as presidents and other political incumbents, go up and down in polls. Like “a yo-yo,” ex-Gov. Jim Blanchard was fond of saying.

So it has been in the second term of Gov. Rick Snyder. Months ago, his signing of right-to-work legislation eroded his approval rating and one poll had him slightly trailing Democrat nominee-apparent Mark Schauer, a former Battle Creek state legislator and congressman, in a 2014 match.

But last week, the Detroit News, citing his decision to take Detroit into bankruptcy, said “Snyder’s favorability has regained ground from a 38 percent low in February after the divisive right-to-work debates, climbing to 44 percent this month, according to a statewide polls commissioned by Lambert, Edwards & Associates, a bipartisan public relations firm.“

In the matchup for governor, Snyder has a lead of 43 percent to 37.2 percent — which at this stage means absolutely nothing as an indication of the election outcome. But it’s fun to watch shifting trends.

Funding restored — for now

Last week, I noted that a House Appropriations subcommittee cut 2014 spending for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by nearly 80 percent — from $285 million to $60 million.

Subsequently, the full committee boosted the amount to $210 million. But the final amount is uncertain and will be an ongoing issue for delegations from Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.