After months of speculation, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Grand Rapids) announced Tuesday night that he launched an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for president.
The congressman made the announcement on Twitter.
"Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational’s nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people," he said, tagging the Libertarian Party.
Amash said two weeks ago that he had put his congressional campaign on pause to consider running for president. Since then, the congressman said he took time to talk with family and friends about what a run for the White House could look like.
"I came to the realization that the country needs someone who was honest and principled, and what we were getting out of Washington wasn't cutting it," Amash said. "We have two parties that are always fighting each other. There's partisan bickering about everything. And we really need practical approaches based in humility and we don't have that right now in Washington."
Amash has been in the national spotlight for about a year, as his criticisms of President Donald Trump intensified following the completion of the Mueller report. He was the first Republican to call for an impeachment investigation, and on July 4, he "declared independence" from the Republican party.
As the sole Independent in the House of Representatives, Amash voted to impeach the president in December.
Amash has represented Michigan's 3rd Congressional district for five terms, and he said making the decision to explore running for the presidency was a difficult one.
"I love representing this district. I weighed that very carefully." he said. "But when I look at the presidential field, I see two candidates who aren't really cut out for it. We really need leadership in Washington right now."
Before this announcement, the 2020 campaign was set up to be between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Amash said he wants to give people an alternative; he has also previously said that he only wants to run if he thinks he can win.
"I feel like there is a good chance of doing that with this field with the kind of tension in this country over these two candidates," he said. "Right now you've got two older candidates who represent the past, and we need something different going forward."
Amash, who just celebrated his 40th birthday, will now be the youngest person in the race with both Trump and Biden in their 70s.
"These are not the best candidates the parties could have put forward, and I think people deserve a real alternative," said Amash.
The Libertarian Party tweeted shortly after Amash made his announcement saying 2020 is a critical year and "it's time for a different path." This echoes the language on Amash's campaign website, which says "We're ready. For something new."
The National Libertarian Nominating Convention is schedule to occur over Memorial Day weekend.
If Amash ultimately decides to run president, it will leave the congressional seat open. However, his campaign said he hasn't ended his run for Congress yet. "He's focused on exploring this right now," said a campaign spokesperson. "But he hasn't officially suspended his congressional campaign."
So far, five Republicans and one Democrat have filed to run for the 3rd District primary in August.
Republican Peter Meijer responded to the exploratory committee by saying, "Our campaign has always been about serving West Michigan, and nothing will change our mission."
State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis said the district needs "true, engaged leadership."
The sole Democrat in the race, Hillary Scholten, said Amash leaves a "a vacuum in this toss-up district that will either be filled by a pro-Trump extremist, or me--a proven leader."
The petition filing deadline for major party candidates hoping to be on the August ballot was pushed back to May 8 due to the coronavirus. The primary is Aug. 4. For independent candidates, the deadline is July 16 to be on the November ballot.
Watch the interview with Justin Amash following his announcement Thursday night:
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