With Republicans, Democrats, and independents in Michigan's 8th District waking up Friday morning to learn that influential Republican Rep. Mike Rogers would not seek re-election, speculation started early as to who would succeed the seven-term lawmaker and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Early betting in the Lansing-area district was that Rogers' successor would be a Republican with a prominent political name. The first names on the GOP side mentioned were those of State Rep. Bill Rogers of Livingston, the congressman's older brother, and State Sen. Mike Bishop, whose father Don was a longtime state senator from Oakland County.
One key GOP operative in the district who requested anonymity told Newsmax that Mike Rogers might have given the "heads-up" to his brother about leaving and that Bill could be running within days.
The last time one brother succeeded another in the House was in 1945, when Democrat Sam Ervin — later famed in the Senate as chairman of the Watergate Committee —succeeded his younger brother Joe for a seat in North Carolina after Joe committed suicide.
Both Bill Rogers and Bishop are considered strong conservatives in the mold of Mike Rogers. Two other conservatives, State Sen. Joe Hune, 33, of Livingston County, and former Michigan Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis, are mentioned for the seat.
Because Mitt Romney barely carried the Lansing-based 8th District with 51.1 percent of the vote in '12, there is considerable early guessing that Democrats will make a strong effort to win the open seat. Among Democrats mentioned are Ingham County Clerk Barbara Byrum, who has won widespread publicity for conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on such marriages.
Barbara's mother Diane lost to Rogers in his first race for Congress in 2000 by less than 400 votes in the closest House contest in the nation that year.
Also mentioned as a Democratic candidate is State Rep. Sam Singh, a strong liberal who represents Michigan State University (East Lansing) in the legislature.
Rogers, 50, astonished even his closest associates with the news that he was retiring from Congress with the goal of launching a nationwide talk show on Cumulus Radio.
"I heard about Mike's decision a few minutes after I got up this morning," Ingham County (Lansing) GOP Vice Chairman Linda Lee Tarver told Newsmax, "And I'm confident that the 2012 redistricting following the 2010 census means that the 8th District would remain in our hands. And our next congressman, like Mike, will be a conservative."
As to why Rogers is leaving at such a young age, Williams said: "Look, he served in the military, was an FBI agent, survived cancer, and had a distinguished career. He has given his life to his country and doesn't have to prove anything to anyone."
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