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As Upton Drops Out, GOP Pins Hopes On Michigan Newcomer

U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) speaks to reporters about health care legislation after meeting with President Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1C42E29E30U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) speaks to reporters about health care legislation after meeting with President Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1C42E29E30

GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan announced Friday that he will not give up his seat to run for Senate, leaving the field open to political newcomers like grassroots Republican candidate John James.

After months of speculation that Upton would resign from his seat in favor of a run for the upper chamber, the veteran Michigan politician announced definitively that he will not run for Senate in a reassuring move for GOP leadership concerned about what the recent wave of retirements will mean for their House majority.

“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 shared with the Washington Examiner. “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.”

Upton’s decision to forego a Senate run is promising news for James, an African American Army combat veteran and businessman running on a conservative pro-growth platform. James, one of a group of Republicans running to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, has already demonstrated a penchant for grassroots fundraising, accruing just under $300,000 in his first month taking donations.

The young political novice has vowed to stimulate Michigan’s economy, relying on experience he developed working for his family business after returning from flying helicopters in Iraq. He has also recently received an endorsement from Robert O’Neil, a Navy SEAL who was a part of the team that shot and killed Osama bin Laden. (RELATED: Navy SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Endorses Michigan GOP Senate Candidate)

Upton’s decision was reportedly informed by recent polling, which revealed that Michigan Republicans prefer outsider anti-establishment candidates, a classification that cannot be easily applied to Upton, who has been in the House since 1987. A recent poll, released Nov. 14, had Upton trailing James 24 percentage points to 19.

For now, the longtime politician is focused on delivering in his current role and winning another term in 2018.

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

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