Camp 'looking' at Michigan Senate race

Michigan Republicans on Wednesday welcomed news Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is considering running for Senate, saying he is one of the few potential GOP recruits who could turn the seat from blue to red.

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Camp told reporters he’s looking at mounting a campaign for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and has talked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the possibility.

"Well, some people urged me to take a look at it. So I'm going to do a proper review of it," Camp told reporters at the Capitol. "I'm just starting to think about it."

The party will likely need to pick up six seats in 2014 to gain control of the Senate.

Democrats are now seen as the favorites to keep Levin's seat. The party has coalesced around Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a proven fundraiser who has won some hard-fought campaigns in past years.

President Obama easily won Michigan in both 2008 and 2012.

But Republicans believe Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, would give the GOP a chance to expand the 2014 map of competitive states.

“There's no doubt he'd be the strongest option for us and if he were to get in the race it'd clearly be a competitive race,” said Michigan GOP strategist Saul Anuzis.

Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) is already running but has failed to excite some Republicans. 

She made it clear she wouldn’t stand aside for Camp, setting up a potentially divisive Republican primary if he runs.

In an email to The Hill, Land cast Camp as an “establishment congressman,” noting his votes for the Wall Street bailout and raising the debt ceiling.

Other Republicans including Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) are also looking at the race. But Amash this week predicted it will be “very difficult” for Republicans to win. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Camp would be a “credible candidate” but would be surprised if he runs.

“He would give up his seniority in the House to step into a race that would be a very tough race for him,” she said.

Camp would bring significant fundraising abilities to the race. He has $3 million in the bank. 

Camp has also shown a willingness to work across the aisle — most recently taking up bipartisan tax reform with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

That’s a selling point in the Democratic-leaning state, though it could cause him problems in the primary.

"Congressman Camp is under a lot of pressure to bring much needed tax reform to the American people and it is unfortunate he doesn't seem to be having success,” Land said.

Camp is term-limited at the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and cannot hold on to that chairmanship after the 2014 election.

His decision to look at the race is somewhat of a reversal from earlier this year, when he said he wasn’t taking "serious look" at running.

Bernie Becker and Erik Wasson contributed

This story was first posted at 8:41 a.m.