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U.S. Rep. Dave Camp says he won't seek re-election

Congressman Dave Camp with John Boehner.
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New republican leadership: Dave Camp and John Boehner

Michigan Congressman Dave Camp has announced he will not seek reelection this year. Camp joins a string of Michigan congressional veterans who’ve said they plan to sit out this year’s election.

Camp’s office sent out this statement:

“Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States House of Representatives.  This decision was reached after much consideration and discussion with my family.

“Serving in Congress is the great honor of my professional life.  I am deeply grateful to the people of the 4th Congressional District for placing their trust in me.  Over the years, their unwavering support has been a source of strength, purpose and inspiration.

“During the next nine months, I will redouble my efforts to grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American by fixing our broken tax code, permanently solving physician payments for seniors, strengthening the social safety net and finding new markets for U.S. goods and services.”

Camp had made using his Ways and Means position to accomplish a tax code overhaul a high priority. It was one of the reasons he gave for not making a run for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat. But Camp most likely loses the Ways and Means gavel after this term. Also, his Senate Democratic counterpart in the Senate and tax reform partner Max Baucus just called it quits and has been confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to China.

Camp has also battled cancer in recent years, although he was given a clean bill of health in a recent checkup.

The announcement was something of a surprise as a spokesman had indicated earlier that Camp intended to seek reelection. Camp’s Fourth Congressional District sprawls across 15 counties in central and northern Michigan. It leans solidly Republican.

Camp’s departure also represents a further erosion of Michigan’s influence in Congress. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin; fellow Democrat John Dingell, the longest-serving member in the history of Congress; and Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, are also retiring or switching careers. Together, they have more than 130 years of experience and seniority in the House.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat, is also giving up his House seniority to make a Senate bid.

But Michigan isn’t alone in losing seniority and its commensurate influence.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) (and Dingell nemesis) and Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) are among the lions of Congress wrapping up their political careers in 2014. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.