Rep. Upton won't seek Michigan Senate seat, focuses on reelection

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced Friday that he will not seek a Senate seat in 2018 and will instead focus on his House reelection bid.

“I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. There was a path, but today we are choosing not to follow it,” Upton said in a statement.

“Instead, my focus will remain on helping all of my constituents with problems big and small and improving the quality of life for all in Michigan.”

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“We need focus and fortitude in Washington now more than ever. We are full speed ahead for re-election in 2018.”

The longtime Michigan congressman and former head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had been considered the far-and-away favorite for Republicans looking to run against Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSheldon Whitehouse leads Democrats into battle against Trump judiciary Bill aims to help farmers sell carbon credits Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks MORE (D-Mich.), with rumors swirling about his potential bid.

The move is a mixed bag for Republicans in Washington.

Upton’s decision keeps a veteran lawmaker in the House during a time when a number of his more moderate peers have announced their retirement, upping Democratic chances of snatching those seats in the midterm elections next year.

But it deprives the party of a top candidate for a Senate seat in a state that President Trump won narrowly in 2016. 

Now that he’s officially out of the race, the GOP options in the state are Army veteran John James and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young.

While Upton has far higher name recognition than either candidate and had been considered the favorite, James, a political outsider who has stepped up campaigning in recent months, led Upton by 5 percentage points in a recent poll by Target Insyght.

This report was updated at 8:53 a.m.

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