LANSING (Great Lakes News) – Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Macomb) will not endorse a Republican candidate to occupy his soon-to-be-vacant seat.
Mitchell made the announcement a day before House Appropriations Committee Chair Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) released a campaign launch video for Mitchell’s seat. This marks the first time Mitchell has made a statement related to his districts’ upcoming election, which he complicated by announcing his retirement from Congress a few months ago.
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Mitchell clarified his position on endorsement on a Facebook post through his campaign account Paul Mitchell for Congress. Making announcements related to an upcoming campaign is illegal through official Congressional methods, with Mitchell’s congressional office refusing to respond to questions related to the upcoming campaign. Mitchell circumvented those restrictions by making his statement through his election account.
“During this 2 week District work period I have been asked several times about what person will succeed me in Congress – who I will endorse in the 2020 election cycle for this seat,” Mitchell said. “I believe one or more quality people will announce their candidacy soon. I feel the idea that a Member of Congress believing they should attempt to select their successor through endorsements and other actions reflects incredible self importance and I intend to avoid endorsing any candidate.”
The statement makes mention of “one or more quality people” announcing their candidacy, which may be a reference to Hernandez. If Mitchell meant to indicate other candidates they have yet to enter the race. Also running in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District are Democrats Kelly Lynn Noland and Kimberly Bizon, and Republicans Richard Piwko and Brandon Mikula. Hernandez is the first Republican candidate to bring a level of star power to the race, being named the “Most Conservative Member of the House” by MIRS in 2017.
Mitchell also voiced support and thankfulness for his time as a member of Congress. He won his two elections by a landslide, taking the seat in 2016 by 30 points and holding onto it in 2018 by 25 points.
“It continues to be an incredible honor and opportunity to represent Michigan’s 10th Congressional District,” Mitchell said. “Thank you to all that have supported me and for all the kind messages. I am confident the voters will select another principled leader to replace me in 2020.”
Mitchell was one of several Republican members of Congress who announced their retirement in August after President Donald Trump clashed with “the squad” over Twitter. Republicans like Mitchell, Rep. Will Hurd from Texas, and Rep. Susan W. Brooks of Indiana announced their retirement with public declarations of disapproval for the president’s rhetoric. The rift between Mitchell and more pro-Trump wings of the party has the potential to damage his reputation in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District, which is safely Republican and Trump won by a large margin. The 10th is also one of the 2016 “pivot” districts that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 before voting for Trump in 2016.
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With Mitchell excusing himself from providing voters with an endorsement, he could leave the district in a far more vulnerable position for Republicans. But Mitchell has confidence in the staying power of Republicans in the district.
“I trust the voters,” Mitchell said.