Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett has withdrawn his 8th Congressional District candidacy.
Barnett, a Republican, had filed Tuesday for the seat, currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton.
“Honestly, the thought of a difficult and divisive campaign between three Rochester Hills residents seems counterproductive at best,” Barnett said in a prepared statement.
In other news, state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, withdrew his bid for an Oakland County state Senate seat to focus on the 8th District race.
That decision sets up a GOP primary with former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, who has been endorsed by Rogers.
Barnett dropping wasn't significant in Livingston County, but quite significant in Oakland County. He got 77% twice in Rochester Hills. This favors Mike Bishop most likely. Barnett had a lot of establishment support in Oakland County, including L Brooks Patterson. He did have a tough road to victory, especially with Joe Hune not running and taking the Livingston and rural Ingham County vote with him. That's not a shot at Barnett. He just wasn't well known here. Rochester Hills is over an hour drive from Brighton.
While this didn't start out this way, I can see this starting to turn into an ideological based primary. Bishop had some tea party support in 2010 and isn't disliked by them, but Tom McMillin is a hero to many tea partiers which could automatically turn Bishop into an enemy of at least many tea party groups.
Justin Amash types are also supporting McMillin heavily. Amash can not stand Mike Rogers (or vice versa), so this could also end up being a proxy battle to some extent as Rogers endorsed Bishop early and Amash wanted McMillin to run from the start. While I hope this isn't the case, I can see the knives being sharpened already by "friends of the program." Advice to all sides, negative campaigning doesn't work well in Livingston County and is known to backfire.
Joe Hune not running was a big game changer here for what he did not do. McMillin wasn't going to run against Joe. McMillin knows he needs the conservative vote in Livingston County to have a chance, and Joe would have wrapped that up from the start. Joe also had significant "establishment" support as well.
The winner goes through Livingston County, and rural Ingham to a lesser extent. Bishop will get some of the Rogers vote automatically. McMillin gets the Amash and Campaign for Liberty vote off the bat. The winner of this primary will come down to who gets what would have been the "Joe Hune" vote. Joe's strong with tea party, but was really strongest ideologically with the regular old conservatives that don't like labels. Will they vote Bishop or McMillin? That remains to be seen, and I don't think it is set in stone.
Bishop set up campaign office in Brighton. He's got good campaign staff in the county (some from the county). That's a smart move. I expect McMillin will work hard in this county as well.
The dems have a four way primary. Hopefully that one is as ugly and bloody as the 98 gubernatorial primary for them.