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Longtime GOP Rep. Fred Upton, who voted to impeach Trump, won't seek re-election

The centrist stalwart and dean of the Michigan delegation becomes the fourth Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump to retire this election cycle.
Problem Solvers Caucus
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., speaks at the Capitol in 2020.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, a centrist stalwart who later was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 attack, said Tuesday that he would not run for re-election after 18 terms in the House.

Upton becomes the fourth Republican who voted to impeach Trump to announce their retirement this cycle, joining Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

“Even the best stories has a last chapter,” Upton said in an emotional speech on the House floor. “This is it for me.” 

Trump had endorsed a GOP primary challenger against Upton, state Rep. Steve Carra. But Carra dropped out of the race when redistricting drew both Upton and his GOP colleague, Rep. Bill Huizenga, into the same district, setting up a member-on-member primary. Trump then endorsed Huizenga last month.

The former president took a victory lap just moments after Upton announced his retirement.

"UPTON QUITS! 4 down and 6 to go. Others losing badly, who’s next?" Trump said in a statement.

In an interview with NBC News last week, Upton was asked if Trump would be a factor in his decision about whether to run for a 19th term.

"It is a little bit in that some of the folks here are so beholden to him that they don’t accept those of us that are willing to stand up," Upton said.

Upton, 68, has had a storied career in Washington and is that rare lawmaker who is respected on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. He first worked as a staffer for then-Rep. David Stockman, R-Mich., and then followed his boss to the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration.

Elected to the House in 1986, Upton became dean of the Michigan congressional delegation, and served as the chairman of the influential Energy and Commerce Committee and as a leader of a caucus of centrist Republicans known as the Tuesday Group.

More recently, he served as a vice chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which pushes for civility and centrist legislation, such as the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that was signed into law last year.

"Fred Upton embodies the very integrity, intelligence and civility our country needs more than ever," said Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., one of the leaders of the Problem Solvers group who joined Upton at a bipartisan dinner Monday night.

During his 35-year tenure on Capitol Hill, Upton voted to impeach two presidents: Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, during Trump’s second impeachment. But he made no mention of Trump in his speech — or his decision to impeach him.

"As a former boy scout, I believe in leaving the campground better than one found it," Upton said in his floor remarks Tuesday. "I’ve worked with seven administrations, seven House speakers, none of them would call me a rubber stamp.

"If it’s good policy for Michigan, it’s good enough for all of us," he said.

Upton thanked his constituents for placing their confidence in him.

“These folks are truly the salt of the earth, and I love them all. I really do, even the few that don’t always love me," he said.

Last year, some of the criticism aimed at Upton turned extreme after he became one of the 13 Republicans to vote for the infrastructure bill. He released a profanity-laced voicemail that contained death threats and against him, his family and staff, and some GOP colleagues wanted those 13 lawmakers booted off their committees.

Upton’s close friend and Michigan colleague, Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell, spoke on the floor after Upton, calling him a "devoted public servant for southwest Michigan, all of Michigan, and our nation."

"To him, bipartisan and compromise are not forbidden words," she said. "Fred knew well that if we are going to deliver real solutions for the American people we need to come together and listen to all perspectives, no matter how complicated the issue might be."

Five other House Republicans who did not vote to impeach Trump are also retiring this cycle. Seven others are seeking other office.