LANSING, Mich. – Longtime Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who voted to impeach President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and faced a primary after redistricting, announced Tuesday he will not run for a 19th term in Congress.
Upton, 68, is the fourth of 10 Republicans who backed impeachment to not seek reelection, joining Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.
“Even the best stories has a last chapter. This is it for me,” Upton said during a speech in the House. "I’ve done the zillions of airline miles back and forth. I’ve signed Fred to over a million letters, cast more votes than anyone in this chamber while here and by most accounts have succeeded in making a difference, accomplishing what I've set out to do with more unfinished work still yet to come.”
The recent once-a-decade redistricting process put the moderate Upton, of St. Joseph, and sixth-term Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga of Holland Township in the same GOP-leaning seat in the state's southwestern corner. In February, Upton's campaign aired an ad that signaled he was more likely to run, but he stopped short of announcing a bid.
Trump has worked to exact revenge on those who crossed him — recruiting, endorsing and campaigning for challengers running against them. That includes Upton, whom Trump has slammed as a “RINO," a Republican in name only. “He doesn’t deserve to keep his seat,” Trump said in September.
Upton has said Trump had to be held to account because the country cannot tolerate any president's attempt to impede the peaceful transfer of power. He told reporters Tuesday that redistricting, not impeachment backlash, was a factor in his decision to retire.
Trump last month endorsed Huizenga after earlier supporting another Republican primary challenger before the new district was drawn. On Tuesday, Trump issued a statement reacting to Upton's decision, saying: “UPTON QUITS! 4 down and 6 to go.”
Upton, who was first elected in 1986 and chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2011 through 2016, became emotional as he ended his floor remarks in which he thanked his “salt-of-the-earth” constituents. He noted his parents were watching on C-SPAN.
“Someone asked my wife Amey what would be the next chapter. She said, 'And they lived happily ever after.′ Indeed, we will.”
Legislative highlights, Upton said, include a law to accelerate medical product development and what he said was his “driving mission” — a focus on jobs and the economy. He mentioned work to rev up American energy production, deal with climate change, reduce corporate taxes, rescue the domestic auto industry and protect the Great Lakes.
He also said he has been hitting the road with Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell "in a push for civility. Hopefully, civility and bipartisanship versus discord can rule not rue the day.”
Dingell spoke after Upton, who stayed to watch. She also was emotional.
“It is his civility that I and Congress will miss the most," she said. "Fred really believed that he was an American first, that reaching across the aisle was important, that working together is how we get things done for the American people.”
Upton is the 16th House Republican to say he or she is not running for reelection, compared with 30 Democrats. The total had been 31 Democrats, but Filemon Vela, who said he was not seeking reelection, ended up resigning for another job last month.
Despite Trump's criticism of Upton, other Republicans applauded him. Huizenga praised his “statesman-like legacy.” Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said Upton has led his community “with honor and distinction” and thanked him for “his tireless advocacy on behalf of Michigan.”
Freking contributed from Washington. Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed from New York.