Former Obama staffer aims to challenge Amash for U.S. House seat

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Democrat Nick Colvin plans to run for the U.S. House in Michigan's 3rd District

Washington — Democrat Nick Colvin, who worked for former President Barack Obama, said Tuesday he plans to run for Congress in hopes of challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash. 

Colvin, 35, lives in Saranac and is an attorney at the law firm Miller Canfield, where he works on economic development projects.

He previously served as general counsel and senior adviser to the treasurer for the city of Chicago, moving back to Michigan in January of this year. 

“I’m running for Congress to bring the values of hard work and service I learned growing up in Ionia to Washington," Colvin said in a statement. 

"I’ve seen first-hand the challenges of families in small and rural towns, and because I’ve lived those challenges first hand, I will always put Michigan first — whether it’s taking on the big drug and insurance companies, or fighting for better quality jobs and an economy that works for everyday Americans and Michiganders. As my grandfather used to say, ‘I’ll just fix things.'"

Colvin's announcement did not mention Amash of Cascade Township, who is serving his fifth term and has made national headlines since becoming the sole Republican in Congress to back impeaching President Donald Trump. 

Amash's clashes with Trump have lost him the financial support of the DeVos family of West Michigan and drawn primary challenges from pro-Trump Republicans, with others expected to enter the GOP race.

Amash said last week he remains "confident” in his district, where he won re-election last year by 11 percentage points over Democrat Cathy Albro. 

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, holds a town hall meeting at Grand Rapids Christian High School's DeVos Center for Arts and Worship on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. The congressman came under scrutiny May 18 when he posted a series of Tweets to outline his support for impeachment proceedings.

But the potential for a fractured field in the 2020 GOP primary has attracted the interest of Democrats, who see an opportunity to take advantage of an expensive GOP primary that could leave the Republican nominee bruised and on the defensive in a traditionally red district. 

Michigan's 3rd District includes most of Grand Rapids and other parts of Kent County, Ionia, Barry and Calhoun counties and a portion of Montcalm County.

Colvin, raised by a single mother in Ionia, attended a two-room schoolhouse before going on to community college and graduating from the University of Michigan (2006) and then Harvard Law School (2014), according to his campaign. 

Colvin worked for Obama as a personal aide in his Senate office before he launched his presidential campaign. He also served in the White House Counsel’s Office under Obama.