Before announcing last month he would retire from the House of Representatives to launch a national radio show, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) became a popular figure on talk shows as a national security hawk.
On Monday, the soon-to-be broadcaster gave his blessing to another Michigan Republican named Mike who gearing up for a run at Rogers' 8th district seat: former state Senate Majority leader Mike Bishop.
“Mike Bishop is the right conservative for the 8th District,” Rogers said, according to a press release. “Bishop will stand up to liberal policies of the Obama administration, just like he stood up and fought for us against the liberal policies of the Granholm administration.”
Bishop has been blamed by many for a part in helping cause Michigan's brief government shutdowns in 2007 and 2009 under former governor Jennifer Granholm (D).
After term limits forced him to leave the state Senate, Bishop, who is currently chief legal officer for International Bancard Corp. and an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, lost the Republican nomination to be Michigan's attorney general to Bill Schuette.
In the release, Bishop said he was honored to have Rogers' endorsement: "Mike Rogers has led a tremendous life of service with great distinction."
Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the Ways and Means chairman and close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, also recently announced he would not seek reelection. Camp and Rogers are two of four members of Michigan Congressional delegation who have announced they are stepping down this year, along with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).
Bishop is not the only Republican gunning for Rogers' seat. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is backing Rochester Hills (Mich.) Mayor Bryan K. Barnett, The Oakland Press reported.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak said the state's GOP leadership will meet soon to discuss Barnett and Bishop's chances. But when a radio host asked last month whether Bishop was "tainted" by his venomous relationship with then-Gov. Granholm, Schostak admitted on-air that Bishop is "associated with those years," the Macomb Daily reported.
Rogers' unexpected departure could also result in a strong challenge from the other side of the aisle. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call recently changed its rating of the 8th district from "safe Republican" to "lean Republican."
"Voters in Michigan’s eighth congressional district have shown that this district is competitive –- supporting President Obama in 2008 and nearly in 2012 –- and they’re hungry for an agenda that puts the middle class first," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said, according to the Washington Post.
One Democrat who may step forward in the vacuum created by Rogers' departure is Barb Byrum, the Ingham County Clerk who presided over the nuptials of Michigan's first gay couple after the state's ban on gay marriage was briefly struck down on March 22.
Byrum is a former Michigan state representative continuing in the family business; her mother, Dianne Byrum, is Michigan's former House Minority Leader. The Bayrums also have a history in Rogers' district. Dianne Bayrum ran for Michigan's 8th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She lost by 111 votes, in that year's closest race, to Mike Rogers.
The Detroit News reported Byrum recently traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with congressional members and key Democrats about her possible bid. Although previously announced Democratic candidates Susan Grettenberger and Ken Darga have entered the race, Byrum is thought by political watchers to have the best shot.
Who else will join the race for Michigan's 8th Congressional District? They'll have to decide soon: the filing deadline in Michigan for candidates is April 22.