Michigan’s Longest Serving Congressman—Who Voted to Impeach Trump—Is Retiring

MI Rep. Fred Upton speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, May 3, 2017 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

By Kaishi Chhabra

April 7, 2022

Rep. Fred Upton was one of 10 Republicans who supported the former president’s second impeachment in January 2021. He’s the fourth of that group to announce leaving office.

Need to Know

  • Rep. Fred Upton was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in 2021, following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • Trump acknowledged Upton’s decision with a celebratory statement on his website, including: “UPTON QUITS! Four down and six to go. Others losing badly, who’s next?” 
  • The remaining six Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment, including another Michigan GOP House lawmaker, now face Trump-endorsed challengers in the primary. 

MICHIGAN—Earlier this week, Michigan’s longest-serving Congress member announced he will not run for a 19th term. By doing so, he became the fourth House Republican to retire after voting to impeach former President Donald Trump in 2021 for his part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Even the best stories have a last chapter. This is it for me,” Rep. Fred Upton (St. Joseph) said on the House floor Tuesday morning. “As a former Boy Scout, I believe in leaving the campground better than one found it. I’ve worked with seven administrations, seven House speakers—none of them would call me a rubber stamp. If it’s good policy for Michigan, it’s good enough for all of us.”

Upton was one of 10 Republicans who supported the former president’s second impeachment in January 2021 on one charge of inciting an insurrection in connection to violent riots at the U.S. Capitol, stating, “our country cannot and will not tolerate any effort by any president to impede the peaceful transfer of power.”

After serving nearly 36 years in office, Upton chose to leave Congress rather than seek reelection, joining fellow Republican Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio. Last year, Gonzales cited, “the toxic dynamics inside our own party” as one of the reasons to leave his seat. 

“UPTON QUITS! Four down and six to go. Others losing badly, who’s next?” Trump said in a mocking statement on his website.

With the redistricting of Michigan this year, Upton was going to be running against pro-Trump Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) in the newly created 4th District that will include both St. Joseph and Zeeland, the hometowns of Upton and Huizenga respectively. (Following the completion of the U.S census, district lines are redrawn every 10 years to have a nearly equal population in all the districts.)

Upton pointed to redistricting for why he decided to retire, rather than the backlash he faced over his impeachment vote. However, Huizenga is predicted to be at a greater disadvantage in the new map, according to an analysis by Daily Kos, which noted: “While about two-thirds of the residents of the new 4th are currently Upton’s constituents, Huizenga represents only about a quarter of the seat he’s now the frontrunner to claim.”

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Upton’s leadership is “bipartisan, commonsense, and empathetic” in a statement, commending his decades of service for protecting the Great Lakes and shaping major legislation on energy, the environment, and manufacturing among many others.

“He is a passionate advocate for the issues he cares about and never hesitates to showcase his independent streak,” Whitmer said. “We could all learn something from his tenure and strive to live and lead with the values he embodies.”

The six remaining Republicans who supported impeachment, including Rep. Peter Meijer  (R-Grand Rapids), now face Trump-backed challengers in the primary. The GOP House primary for Michigan is scheduled for Aug. 2.


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