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Michigan Rep. Vern Ehlers retires



Michigan Rep. Vern Ehlers is retiring. AP photo

Michigan Rep. Vern Ehlers announced his retirement this morning, the 17th Republican to decide against seeking re-election to the next Congress.

"I don't want to stay in office so long that people will say you should have left five years ago," Ehlers said.

Extenuating circumstances likely played a role in Ehlers' decision. His wife, Johanna, suffered a heart attack last week and, on Tuesday, conservative state Rep. Justin Amash announced plans to primary the 76-year-old Ehlers.

Ehlers' 3rd district, which is centered in Grand Rapids, was extremely competitive in 2008 as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) won it by just over 2,000 votes. The seat went strongly for George W. Bush in 2004 (59 percent) and 2000 (60 percent), however.

"Voters in the Grand Rapids area have long supported Republican candidates who stand for limited government and pro-growth economic policies, and we are confident that they will continue to do so in November," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas).

The best known potential Republican candidate is Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who, according to informed Wolverine State Republicans, has long eyed Ehlers seat. Lynn Land is currently running for lieutenant governor on a ticket led by Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

It was not immediately clear whether Democrats would seek to contest the district in the fall or who their candidate might be.

(Here's a list of potential candidates for the seat from the Grand Rapids Press newspapers.

Whether or not Ehlers seat is targeted by the two national parties in the fall, it provides a short-term talking point for House Democrats who have been working to beat back talk of an avalanche -- that terms seems especially appropriate today in Washington -- of retirements on their side in the wake of Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) special election victory last month.

Since that time, one Democrat -- Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry -- has stepped aside while Ehlers and Rep. Steve Buyer (Ind.) have decided to take a pass on re-election bids.

As we always say, however, all retirement are not created equal so don't read too much into the fact that Republicans have five more open seats to defend than Democrats. The Democratic retirements are still, generally, in more problematic districts and more of them are likely to draw the attention -- and campaign cash -- of the two national parties.

Still, open seat races -- no matter the demographics of a district -- are proven to be more electorally volatile than when an incumbent seeks re-election. So, the higher the number of retirements rise for Republicans, the more places they will need to keep an eye on and play defense in a cycle where they are expected to be offense in most places across the country.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 10, 2010; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

I was going to comment that this looked like Gerald Ford's old district.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 11, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Representatives from this district usually don't simply retire. Ehlers' predecessor, Paul Henry, died in 1993. Before him, Harold Sawyer held the seat from 76-84. He unseated Richard VanderVeen, who first won the seat after Gerald Ford left it (his opponent was Richard VanderLaan, and no, nobody was confused by the names). Ford won the seat in 1948. Incumbent Bartel Jonkman was an isolationist, as were many Michigan Republicans pre-WW2, including Senator Arthur Vandenburg. Vandenburg and others emplaced internationalism after the war, but Jonkman remained an isolationist. When Republicans took the Senate in 1946, Vandenburg became Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. When Jonkman criticized Vandenburg's performance in that position, Vandenburg recruited Ford to primary him in revenge. Ford also became Minority Leader by basically knocking off an incumbent. After the 1964 elections, he took on Charlie Halleck on the ground that Republicans should be offering susbstantive policies in opposing LBJ and not just saying no to everything. I just figured I'd share this stuff, since it seemed interesting.

Posted by: joeyjoejoe | February 11, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

"That is Obama's signature move: Invent "people" who are "saying" ridiculous things and then encourage the audience to laugh at these made-up buffoons." Poster by Leapin
=================================
Obama does not need to make up buffoons, there are enough real republicans going around

Posted by: Franktheliberal | February 10, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

BB wrote: That's the essential problem with universal coverage absent a mandate. It's pretty much what happens with flood coverage. If you know that you'll be covered without buying the insurance, why buy the insurance until you need it? You need to have 99 relatively healthy individuals paying into the system to pay for the poor bugger with leukemia.
-----------------------------
Seems to me that solving this problem is quite easy. Establish a waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Probably 3 months would do it. That would greatly reduce the # of ppl willing to wait until they're sick to buy insurance. Not reduce it to zero, but discourage the gamblers.

Waiting periods are a common feature of health insurance policies for decades, so the effect is well understood.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | February 10, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, it depends upon WHO is buying the insurance. If it's individuals with expensive terminal or chronic diseases, the cost of insurance will inevitably rise.

That's the essential problem with universal coverage absent a mandate. It's pretty much what happens with flood coverage. If you know that you'll be covered without buying the insurance, why buy the insurance until you need it? You need to have 99 relatively healthy individuals paying into the system to pay for the poor bugger with leukemia.

There probably is another way around. Some basic level of expenses covered by the government through (whispers, ow) taxes. That's the basic plan and it's as basic as it gets. No mandate, but if you're going to use

It's pretty much why the auto insurance analogy doesn't work. People who don't drive don't need to buy auto insurance. People who don't buy health insurance will need medical care. The better analogy is that we have 45 million uninsured drivers out there. Hope that you don't get hit by one.

BB

[Hi, everyone. I'm baaaaack!!! Anything interesting happen while I was shoveling snow?]

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 10, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

If Blue Cross's rates go UP when fewer people buy insurance,

Why won't rates go DOWN when more people buy insurance?
------------------------------
So, why do the Republicans tell us that insurance rates will go UP when people have to buy health insurance?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | February 10, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Everyone who thinks our healthcare system is just fine as it is, or just needs a little nip and tuck, like tort reform, better pay a lot of attention to these astounding premium increases. Anthem Blue Cross is hardly a floundering company as it is part of Wellpoint, with 34 million subscribers, $4.7b in profits in 2009.

Healthcare costs are going to eat us alive if we don't do something.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | February 10, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Anthem Blue Cross seems to be caught off guard by the reaction to their 39% rate increase. The increase is scheduled to go into effect in two weeks, March 1. The Republican candidate for governor is asking them to hold off. This is their response:

"Anthem's response to the increased scrutiny has been mostly silence. The company has yet to respond even to Monday's request by state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to delay the rate increases until May 1 to give the state time to investigate."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/10/MNV91BV35Q.DTL&type=health#ixzz0fBDiHP02

Posted by: 12BarBlues | February 10, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Worth noting that Anthem just reported $2 billion in profits.

Now that they think the heat's off watch the old "market forces" canard get new airplay.

The executives should go to the electric chair.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Anthem Blue Cross of California issued a statement Monday to explain their 39% rate increase for the individual market. The reason is that due to the recession, fewer people are buying insurance, and so everyone else has to make up for the revenue decline.

Exact quote: ""... As medical costs increase across our member population, premium increases to the entire membership pool result. Unfortunately, in the weak economy many people who do not have health conditions are foregoing buying insurance. This leaves fewer people, often with significantly greater medical needs, in the insured pool."
-------------------------------------
Heads up everyone. All health carriers everywhere will follow suit.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | February 10, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

just to add, since i had to look it up to be accurate, president obama won kent county, michigan by 150,000 votes. vern ehlers' 3rd district includes grand rapids in kent county.

Posted by: nemokitty | February 10, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

actually, wapo needs to issue a correction since prez. obama won kent county which vern ehlers represents, not mccain, and i might add it was the first time in a very long time a democratic president won the county. the times they are a'changin..also amash attended a tea party in april of '09 in downtown grand rapids and there is a picture of that on the web. so young, so inexperienced, and so out of the mainstream.

Posted by: nemokitty | February 10, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

hey leapin you freakishly paranoid buffoon:

how much of healthcare do you believe to be outside "bureaucrat" control right now?

Know-nothing IDIOT

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

But take a wild guess why Boehner wants to boycott the healthcare summit.


Posted by: DDAWD
------------------------------------------
Unlike the jock-sniffers, normal people watching the president's tete-a-tete with the Republicans only wondered why Obama always responds to imaginary arguments no one made, rather than the questions actually being asked.

That is Obama's signature move: Invent "people" who are "saying" ridiculous things and then encourage the audience to laugh at these made-up buffoons.

Since Obama's reformulations of Republican arguments are always absurd, no further response from him is necessary -- and none is ever forthcoming.

Thus, for example, Obama's description of Republican criticism of his plan to nationalize health care was that "this thing was some Bolshevik plot."

No. No one said it was a "plot," Bolshevik or otherwise.

Republicans' objection to national health care could be more accurately portrayed as follows: Obama's plan to nationalize health care was a terrible idea because it would turn over one-sixth of the American economy to Washington bureaucrats, who would run the system as competently as the federal government runs everything else, from airport security to the post office to FEMA.

How about responding to that argument? Liberals hide conservative arguments from the public like teenagers hide contraband from mother under the bed.

Posted by: leapin | February 10, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

There is a % of voters who pay no attention to things like experience, knowledge or outlook. When they vote they pick young, confident and attractive.

Posted by: margaretmeyers
---------------------------------------
And those voters are called young and naive, ignorant sheeple, or Democrats.

Posted by: leapin | February 10, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Lookit Noa, zouk is either the imperial emperor of his intergalactic yacht-mansion, or, he is a court ordered, bloody-spittle dribbling resident of a (tax payer supported nouvelle "recovery model") state hospital. There is no middle ground of course, so which is it?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Poor zouk.

Family stopped coming to visit years ago, nothing to do but medication evals and art therapy, so he posts here 16 hours a day, 365 days a year, and lives a vicarious high life that everyone knows to be a pathetic lie. And looks UP to Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Poor Ped.

Sarah Palin can fit more on her palm than he can is his puny liberal brain.

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

And for female elected officials the ideal is vapid airheads who eschew teleprompters for skin notes and who sneer at education.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Yeah and the GOP ideal is Nutty John McCain and Mike Castle.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

What Libs want is a real pretty looking elected official.


Unless its a woman. then real butch is preferred.

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

bsimon@1134 -- I think you are right there. 30 years ago the Democrats headed a youth movement and it has worked. Those guys are getting old and Kaine does need to look for attractive, confident, younger candidates. I'm sorry to say, but the attractive thing is important. There is a % of voters who pay no attention to things like experience, knowledge or outlook. When they vote they pick young, confident and attractive.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 10, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@karela @106 -- he's your state rep? I always say a congressman is someone you PAY to leave your community.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 10, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Terri Lynn Land is Terri Lynn or Land, not Lynn Land.

Posted by: Skeg | February 10, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Jesus someone send that guy a Sonicare.

How elitist of me. Real men have gaps from fistfights.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 10, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"Didn't Obama just go in and school the entire Republican party just last week in an unscripted question-and-answer session? (Are the Republicans not running scared from another one on health care, as we write?) Were there teleprompters at the debates that almost everyone (including most Republican pundits) concede that he trounced McCain in during the elections?"

Wasn't the Baltimore Q+A just great? It was pretty telling that FOX News cut away from it and dismissed Obama as being "combative" instead of allowing their viewership to decide. (isn't that in their slogan or something?)

But take a wild guess why Boehner wants to boycott the healthcare summit.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 10, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

What the Dems should be running on:

Rising Healthcare costs are slowing hiring.

"Managers at 178 companies in Minnesota and western Wisconsin said that affordable health care poses the biggest current obstacle to expanding their businesses, according to a survey conducted for Bloomington-based HealthPartners.

Twenty-one percent of employers said rising health care costs create an obstacle to investment and expansion, almost doubling the numbers who blamed government regulations (12 percent), economic conditions (11 percent) or access to investment funding (9 percent)."


http://www.finance-commerce.com/article.cfm/2010/02/10/Survey-Health-care-costs-block-expansion

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 10, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Bill Hardiman run for it.

Posted by: RoseKelly | February 10, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Drivl (who mostly seems to be talking to him- or her... though almost certainly himself) writes:

"Why he doesn't give regular press conferences. He is an empty head without the assistance of his teleprompter:"

Didn't Obama just go in and school the entire Republican party just last week in an unscripted question-and-answer session? (Are the Republicans not running scared from another one on health care, as we write?) Were there teleprompters at the debates that almost everyone (including most Republican pundits) concede that he trounced McCain in during the elections?

Call him what you will, but empty-headed... well that speaks more to the (in)adequacies of you comprehension levels than to the intellect of this former editor of the Harvard Law Review and instructor at The University of Chicago School of Law. The only way Republicans get away with trying to make it seem like Obama is not extremely smart is if people buy into certain stereotypes and ignore the facts.

Politicians use teleprompters (apparently some even go as far as to have to write their core beliefs on their hands to remember them)--can we move onto something relevant.

Posted by: orgbluspider | February 10, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I see dribbl's brain has reached its max buffer again and will continue to post the same cut and paste from some angry lefty loon site until she gets an 'Amen' from a fellow loon.

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse


And here's the republican budget plan -- slash social security and medicare, give big tax breaks to the highest brackets. anyone surprised?

"If some Republicans are squeamish about Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Social Security, there's plenty of tax cuts for the rich included in the plan they might find more to their liking.

TPMDC has been scouring the "Roadmap for America's Future" budget blueprint that Ryan, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, proposed a few weeks ago. Among the nuggets that have GOPers running a bit scared are his plans to dramatically slash Social Security and Medicare benefits to cut the deficit.

Under the plan, Ryan (R-WI) also would give taxpayers a choice of a "simpler" system with just two tax brackets and he would repeal the corporate income tax. In its place he creates a "consumption tax" of 8.5 percent that experts tell us would unfairly burden the lower and middle classes. That's a tax on all goods and services that shifts the tax burden from corporations to individual consumers.

"These are very, very dramatic changes in the tax code ... likely to lose a tremendous amount of revenue," said Jim Horney, director of federal fiscal policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBBP).'

you want to see a real Depression? vote for republicans.

Posted by: drindl | February 10, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Outside of Matthews' rubber room, the irony here is that conservatism alone has not stopped the Obama juggernaut. Democrats had the power in sheer numbers to ram through a socialist agenda. They quickly pushed through a massive "stimulus" bill costing more than $800 billion. The TARP program doubled that bill. Obama basically took over GM and Chrysler. And the media still screamed when anyone called this "socialist."

But the momentum really shifted at year's end. The Climategate revelations of politicized science ruined Obama's appearance at the Copenhagen global-warming summit. Then when all attention returned to health care, Obama placed all his political marbles there and lost again. Even Democrats started realizing Team Obama was not ready for primetime.

Now that liberals are losing, they want to go to the midterm elections claiming that 10-percent unemployment and massive deficits as far as the eye can see are a bipartisan product -- not the result of liberal dominance in Washington.

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Did you see this story about how a Saudi prince owns a big chunk of FOX and how he's dictating content? Who would have thought republicans would want to get their marching orders from an Islamic prince, from the country that brought us 9/11?

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/02/10/right-rebels-foxnews/

Posted by: drindl | February 10, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse


And here's the republican budget plan -- slash social security and medicare, give big tax breaks to the highest brackets. anyone surprised?

"If some Republicans are squeamish about Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Social Security, there's plenty of tax cuts for the rich included in the plan they might find more to their liking.

TPMDC has been scouring the "Roadmap for America's Future" budget blueprint that Ryan, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, proposed a few weeks ago. Among the nuggets that have GOPers running a bit scared are his plans to dramatically slash Social Security and Medicare benefits to cut the deficit.

Under the plan, Ryan (R-WI) also would give taxpayers a choice of a "simpler" system with just two tax brackets and he would repeal the corporate income tax. In its place he creates a "consumption tax" of 8.5 percent that experts tell us would unfairly burden the lower and middle classes. That's a tax on all goods and services that shifts the tax burden from corporations to individual consumers.

"These are very, very dramatic changes in the tax code ... likely to lose a tremendous amount of revenue," said Jim Horney, director of federal fiscal policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBBP).'

you want to see a real Depression? vote for republicans.

Posted by: drindl | February 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The Four Horsemen of the Obamacalypse [Daniel Foster]


There is a great deal of back-and-forth in the blogosphere today on the subject of a Financial Times piece (subscription required) that lays the blame for Obama's floundering first year in office on an advisory staff geared for campaigning, not governing.

Based on extensive anonymous interviews with people around the Obama White House, the Financial Times's Edward Luce paints a picture of an administration run almost entirely from within the president's political machine — with campaign-managers-turned-advisers David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and Robert Gibbs, along with Chicagoan legislative tactician Rahm Emanuel, in the room for every major decision.

Many of Obama's highest-profile cabinet members are, by contrast, largely disconnected from both policy creation and messaging decisions:

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Why he doesn't give regular press conferences. He is an empty head without the assistance of his teleprompter:

Some baffling comments by President Obama in today's press conference.

Asked how how and why small business loans would help small business, President Obama replied:

"If [small businesses] can get the bank loans to boost their payroll... they will do so." He further claimed that in his "travels" he has spoken with small business owners nationwide, and they see optimism and new customers.

I'm curious where these travels took him? A land inhabited with a fairy, children, and a flying boy in a green suit?

Unfortunately, a Presidential decree that small businesses are ready to hire, even from this President, does not make it so. In truth, small businesses are not excited about their 2010 prospects. They need to be. As a Wall Street Journal economic report states, small businesses are stymied:

"Optimism has clearly stalled in spite of the improvements in the economy in the second half of 2009," said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the lobbying organization. "Small-business owners entered 2010 the same way they left 2009 -- depressed."

Yet, our President advocates taking loans for the purpose of boosting payroll -- in the middle of an economic draught. It just makes no sense. Unnecessary risk is not what strengthens and repairs the backbone of our economy -- small business.

Going into debt for the purpose of maintaining payrolls you cannot afford is not how capitalism works. It's not how industries recover.

It was how the Soviet Union worked, however -- before it imploded.

And to think McCain was the one who claimed a weakness in economics. Would that other leaders were as honest.

Small businesses need a long term commitment to conditions necessary for growth -- long term. They need to be shown that their taxes will stay low, and they need to be shown that their government will help them, by getting out of the way.

They don't need false hope, and neither do we.

Posted by: drivl | February 10, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Hallelujah!!! This guy is my rep and we've been trying to get rid of him for years! What a joyous relief.

Posted by: karela | February 10, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

As a registered Republican, I am considerably certain that my party WILL NOT get my vote in 2010 and probably won't in 2012 with the way things are going.

I'm also an engineer and think that there aren't enough people in congress and public policy with technical backgrounds.

Dumb GOP seems to think they can succeed by driving out anybody with an ounce of sense. They need to get a grip on reality.

Palin is Bush WITHOUT an ivy league degree: Personable, but with an empty head.

Posted by: jboogie1 | February 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ddawd, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. The reason they aren't out here today is because we didn't mention Palin, Healthcare, and Obama. The small stuff that I find interesting (congressional elections) doesn't grab the attention of the Drudge Report crowd.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"Speaking of the no-nothings, they are conspicuously absent today, aren't they?"

It is kind of creepy...

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Sweet post joeyjoejoe, I'll scroll past days and weeks at a time here as people who know nothing prove it...just for little posts like yours.

Posted by: shrink2"

Yeah, his post reminds me of the neuroscience club here. Their slogan: "It's not rocket science. It's just brain surgery."

Speaking of the no-nothings, they are conspicuously absent today, aren't they? It's nice, but did I miss something?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 10, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Sweet post joeyjoejoe, I'll scroll past days and weeks at a time here as people who know nothing prove it...just for little posts like yours.

And bsimon, great advice for Kaine and thanks too for pointing out over there how poorly works the health care as kitchen cabinets metaphor.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Democrats think they are entitled to office and have to die in office before being removed (some are already dead and still in office). They will find out that voters will be happy to retire them this fall.

Posted by: kenpasadena | February 10, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Rep Amash is 29. If he's teabagger conservative, a moderate Dem with reasonable experience should be able to make it a competitive race.

Kaine, if he's still on the job, ought to be educating himself on the Dem bench in every district where the incumbent is over 60.

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 10, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

That's too bad. Having a nuclear physicist in the House is cool. My favorite Ehlers quote is from when someone asked him if he was a rocket science. His response was (Paraphrasing here) "No. We look down on rocket scientists."

Democrats actually won this seat in the past. When Gerald Ford was appointed Vice President, Dem Richard VanderVeen won the special election and the 1974 general election. He was unseated in 1976. If Democrats are actually competetive here, Republicans won't be having nearly as good of a year as they think they will.

Posted by: joeyjoejoe | February 10, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Nice teeth. Wonder if he would support HCR if it included dental? For years the Brits were mocked for having bad teeth. When the National Health Service was implemented in the late 40's dental health vastly improved.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | February 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Today we learn the word primary is not just a verb, but a transitive verb.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Run, Amash, run!

He looks like a very accomplished High School senior.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 10, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Let's Tea Party On!

Palin/Amash 2016

Posted by: JakeD3 | February 10, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

What is it with Republicans and green teeth?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 10, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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