State Rep. Lower drops bid for Amash's west Michigan seat

Mark Hicks Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican State Rep. Jim Lower said Tuesday he is withdrawing from the 3rd Congressional District race in west Michigan to replace independent Congressman Justin Amash.

The Greenville Republican announced in May he was challenging Amash for the seat representing the Grand Rapids area after calling the West Michigan congressman "out of touch" with his district. 

The announcement came after Amash became the first Republican lawmaker in Congress to break with President Donald Trump over findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Amash, a former Republican who declared his independence on July 4, has backed impeaching Trump.

Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, said family concerns "coupled with fundraising challenges" led to his decision to back out of the race to represent Michigan's 3rd Congressional District.

Lower, who was first elected to the Michigan House in 2016 and represents the 70th District, cited family issues and the challenges of raising money for his bid.

“I have sincerely appreciated the donations our campaign has received up to this point," Lower said in a release announcing his withdrawal. "However, I do not come from a wealthy family nor do most of my supporters. These facts would have made remaining financially competitive over the long haul of the campaign very difficult.

"This was not an easy decision for our family to make. I would have been honored to serve as our congressman. However, when you couple the family concerns with the fundraising challenges, the right decision became clear.”

Reached Tuesday night, Lower said he had not yet chosen what other candidate he would support.

"It’s going to be a really important race," he told The Detroit News. "It’s going to be important that we pick the right person for that."

Amash's campaign has raised $445,204 since the 2018 election. But in the previous three months, the libertarian-leaning lawmaker raised the least money of 19 incumbent U.S. House members running in districts rated as "toss-ups" by the Cook Political Report, according to data from Issue One.

Peter Meijer of the retailer family had an early money lead last month in the race for the GOP nomination for Amash's seat. The three other Republican hopefuls are  businessman Joel Langlois, state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis of Grand Rapids Township and former Sand Lake Village Trustee Tom Norton.

Meijer’s campaign raised $410,149 over the last three months, including a $100,000 loan from Meijer to his campaign. He is the grandson of the late retailer Fred Meijer.

Langlois generated $246,669 during the three-month period, Afendoulis raised $159,371, Lower received $51,203 and Norton reported raising $7,456.

Lower and Norton launched their campaigns before the latest fundraising period began. Lower had raised $251,799 since his campaign began, while Norton has brought in $22,849, according to disclosures.

Two Democratic candidates also have been raising money: immigration attorney Hillary Scholten of Grand Rapids and attorney Nick Colvin of Saranac.

Scholten generated $233,708 since the start of July. Colvin brought in $124,932 over the three-month period and has raised $246,193 since his campaign launched.