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Republican former Rep. Mike Rogers moves back to Michigan from Florida to run for Senate

Over 14 years in the House, Rogers voted for abortion bans, tax cuts for the rich, and weaker gun safety laws.

By Josh Israel - September 06, 2023
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Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaks at the Vision '24 conference' on March 18, 2023, in North Charleston, S.C.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaks at the Vision '24 conference' on March 18, 2023, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

Former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers will seek his party’s 2024 Senate nomination in Michigan even though he registered to vote in Florida in 2022. Supporters told Fox 2 Detroit in early August that Rogers was a moderate, but his record over seven terms in Congress was consistently anti-reproductive rights, pro-National Rifle Association, and pro-tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

In a kickoff video on Wednesday, Rogers baselessly accused President Joe Biden of promoting open borders, social engineering in schools, and “a broken system of justice, one for the D.C. elites and one for the rest of us.”  

“No candidate is better prepared to have an impact on day one,” Rogers said in the 92-second message. “I’m ready to serve again.”

Democratic Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced in January that she will not seek a fifth term in November 2024, opening up a seat in a competitive swing state.

Rogers served from 1995 to 2001 in the Michigan Senate and from 2001 to 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives. After retirement, he and his wife moved to Florida, and he said he was considering a 2024 presidential campaign. In March, he said on the PBS program “Off the Record” that former President Donald Trump’s deregulatory agenda and his tax cuts were core GOP policies, but that voters were turned off by those emulating his acerbic approach.

Rogers said on the program that he did not think he would consider a Senate bid instead of a presidential campaign: “I just think the problems in the country are so significant right now. What is the best way you can kind of change, move that ship’s direction?” He has apparently changed his mind, reportedly at the urging of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In the past, Rogers has presented himself as a pragmatic centrist, but his record in Congress was not moderate.

“I’ve been a pro-life candidate my entire career,” Rogers told New Hampshire voters at a May town hall event. When asked if he would rule out supporting a national ban, he said  “I’d have to look at it,” adding that he thinks it’s a state issue and that he likely would not support it.

“I would be inclined to say if it’s a states issue, it needs to be a states issue … I don’t know if a federal ban superseding states, which the Supreme Court said that’s where it ought to be, I’m just not sure. I don’t think I’d be there,” he said.

But in the past, he has supported national bans. He voted for a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation in 2013 and told the Associated Press in 2010: “I believe that federal and state governments were established to protect our lives and the lives of the unborn. I believe abortions should be legal only to prevent the death of the mother.”

Rogers routinely received scores of 0 from NARAL Pro-Choice America, indicating consistent opposition to reproductive rights.

Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment in November 2022 guaranteeing reproductive freedom for all. But a federal ban could overrule that.

Ashlea Phenicie, vice president of communications and interim vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Michigan, told the American Independent Foundation:

Anti-abortion politicians were never going to stop at overturning Roe v. Wade. They want to impose a national abortion ban and criminalize abortion, even in states like Michigan that overwhelmingly support abortion rights. To ensure the protections of Proposal 3 remain in effect in Michigan, we must keep a laser focus on the 2024 Michigan Senate race. The candidate who wins the seat could determine the fate of abortion rights nationwide.

In March, Rogers criticized a series of gun safety laws passed by Michigan’s Democratic-led Legislature in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University as ineffective.

“That’s exactly the worse way to make a law in the United States of America because you’re going to do something wrong, you’re going to poke somebody in the eye,” he told Lansing TV station WLNS. “This is the act of getting your fingers around somebody else’s throat when they do bills that don’t impact the issue.”

Over his time in Congress, Rogers took thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association and earned an A rating from the group, according to the New York Times and his 2012 campaign literature. In 2005, he voted for a law that gave special liability protections to firearm and ammunition manufacturers and dealers. He co-sponsored a 2009 bill that would have overridden state gun laws and mandated that anyone could carry a concealed firearm as long it was legal for them to do so under their home state’s laws.

Though Rogers at times presented himself as a deficit hawk concerned about the national debt, he backed President George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax laws that slashed federal revenues and added an estimated $1.7 trillion to the nation’s debt over a decade. According to a 2017 analysis by the progressive Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “High-income taxpayers benefitted most from these tax cuts, with the top 1 percent of households receiving an average tax cut of over $570,000 between 2004-2012.”

Rogers also voted against the Affordable Care Act and repeatedly voted to repeal the law, commonly known as Obamacare. A 2012 campaign mailer called “Mike Rogers is committed to repealing Obamacare” said:

Mike already voted once to repeal ObamaCare, and he’ll keep fighting to repeal this damaging law. ObamaCare is bad for America because:

ObamaCare would add hundreds of billions to our debt

It makes it harder for small businesses to hire workers by creating countless new government mandates and red tape

It hurts our economy by adding enormous costs and uncertainty to private-sector job creators.

The Detroit Free Press reported in January that the uninsured rate in Michigan dropped from 11% in 2013 before the law went into full effect to 5%, citing data from the Center for Health and Research Transformation at the University of Michigan. The same article noted that 322,273 Michiganders received insurance through the Obamacare insurance marketplace in 2023.

A 2015 analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the health care law was actually saving the treasury billions of dollars each year through its cost-savings and revenue generating provisions.

According to the LGBTQ+ rights group Human Rights Campaign, Rogers voted against equal rights at every opportunity over his entire time in the House, earning a “0” score for each term. In 2006, he voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to bar same-sex marriage. Rogers told WLNS in March that he has since “evolved” and would not attempt to repeal marriage equality today.

According to OpenSecrets data, Rogers received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash and contributions to his leadership PAC from oil and gas interests.

On his House campaign site in 2011, Rogers pushed for expanded use of fossil fuels: “The high cost of energy is forcing many Michigan families and businesses to cut back. That’s why Mike believes it’s time to fight back by drilling for American oil here at home, building 30 new nuclear power plants, helping the Big 3 build the next generation of cars that don’t need gasoline, and encouraging the use of wind and solar power.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said:

Michigan Republicans’ nasty primary will leave them with a badly damaged nominee who is out of touch with Michigan families and will struggle in the general election. Retread Mike Rogers quit on Michigan nearly a decade ago, but he won’t be able to hide from his record: pushing the interests of China and big corporations at the expense of working families, putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block, and even backing an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Rogers will likely face other Republicans in a 2024 primary. Pest control executive Michael Hoover and Michigan Board of Education member Nikki Snyder have already announced their candidacies. Former U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer announced on Aug. 31 that he is formally exploring a campaign.

The Cook Political Report rates the general election race “leaning Democratic.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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