Barely two months after launching a long shot bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia) has dropped out of the race and will instead run for re-election to his 11th District seat.
Why McCotter wanted to run for president in the first place might best be described as a mystery. He did nothing to distinguish himself from the rest of the hard core conservatives in the Republican field, was little known outside of his district, and failed to raise much money. He finished in 10th place at a straw poll in Iowa, ranked dead last in Republican presidential polls, and was locked out of Republican presidential debates because of his poor poll numbers. In dropping out, McCotter endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. and Michigan native Mitt Romney.
Having previously declined to run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow, McCotter will now run in an 11th District that has been gerrymandered more Republican for him. After first being elected in 2002, McCotter’s percentage of the vote declined in the following three elections, bottoming out in 2008, when he defeated Joseph Larkin, an underfunded Democratic challenger, by 51 to 45 percent. Larkin carried the Wayne County portion of the district, and all the communities he carried, Belleville, Garden City, Dearborn Heights, Wayne, Westland, and Redford and Van Buren townships, have been removed by redistricting.
Added to the district in Oakland County are Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington, Lake Angelus, Troy, and parts of Clawson, Rochester Hills, and Waterford and West Bloomfield townships, which were previously in the 9th District, represented by Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township). This area leans Republican, and while Peters could have run against McCotter, he instead chose a primary fight in the safely Democratic 14th District, which contains the most Democratic voting areas of the old 9th District, against Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit).
With Peters, the strongest possible Democratic candidate, running in the 14th, it is unclear who the Democrats will run against McCotter. Meanwhile, McCotter is expected to face a primary challenge from state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake Township). Had McCotter stayed in the presidential race much longer, it would have put his congressional seat in danger. But history is on his side, for of the two dozen House members who ran for the presidential nomination and then dropped out and sought re-election over the last 100 years, the only loser was former Rep. Bob Dornan (R-CA) in 1996.