After Rep. Dave Camp made it official that he would not run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin in 2014, momentum among Michigan Republicans was moving toward the only announced candidate for their Senate nomination, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
The preference of Republican leaders for Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, over Land was obvious, and party chieftains were trying to clear the primary field for 12-term lawmaker Camp, who had $3 million in his House campaign account.
In striking contrast was Land, who had won the position of Republican National Committeewoman last year with the backing of the tea party and liberty "outsiders." As a Senate candidate, she has signed the pledge of the Senate Conservatives Campaign Fund to repeal Obamacare if elected.
Such a primary battle would have been a microcosm of the GOP "family feud" in many states between establishment Republicans and those aligned with the tea party and Ron Paul's liberty Republican movement.
Land was at the Republican National Committee meeting in Boston last week as news came from Michigan that Camp had decided against seeking the GOP nomination of the Senate seat.
"I suddenly found hundreds of phone calls on my cellphone to return," Land told Newsmax.
In an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday, Land would not discuss any other prospective Republican hopefuls and simply said: "We're working hard and moving forward. And I'm running my own race."
Land noted that she had just been endorsed by Rep. Candice Miller, who represents Michigan's "thumb" in Congress and who preceded Land as secretary of state, adding, "Just keep watching our press releases — a lot of other people will be endorsing me soon."
Three other Republicans, who had previously signaled they would not run if Camp did, were telling reporters they are taking a fresh look at the race.
The three are Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra, Oakland County District Judge Kimberley Small, and Dr. Rob Steele, who lost a race for Congress in 2010 to venerable Democratic Rep. John Dingell. All are considered conservative, but none have won statewide office. Steele is the only one of the three to have run statewide before, having lost a race for University of Michigan Regent in 2012.
There are questions about whether establishment Republicans within the state's business community would now embrace Land, who steadfastly insisted she would never leave the race if Camp got in.
Even after Camp's announcement, there was talk among Michigan Republicans of a business leader with vast personal resources now getting into the race. No actual names of such a candidate have so far emerged.
"The party grandees need to put up or shut up," veteran Michigan conservative activist Dennis Lennox told Newsmax. "Terri Lynn Land has won statewide in tough years and if Republicans actually want to win, they need to write a check and get behind her."
State Democrats took a different approach to their Senate nomination. No sooner had Levin announced his retirement plans in March, union and party leaders quickly coalesced behind Wayne County-area Rep. Gary Peters as their candidate.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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