February 10th, 2010
02:16 PM ET
13 years ago

Michigan Republican announces retirement

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/10/art.ehlers.jpg caption=" Michigan Republican Rep. Vern Ehlers said Wednesday he will not run for re-election in November."]Washington (CNN) - Michigan Republican Rep. Vern Ehlers said Wednesday he will not run for re-election in November.

Ehlers, 76, who made the announcement from his Grand Rapids district, said he decided to retire after finishing his eighth term so he can spend time with his family.

"While I regret leaving when so much more needs to be done, I know it is time for me to step down. I am in good health, but I recognize that I should complete this chapter of my life. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and my family in Grand Rapids," Ehlers said in a written statement.

Ehlers is the 16th House Republican to announce plans to leave the House either to run for another office or outright retire. So far, 13 House Democrats have decided to retire or run for another office, but Democratic aides expect this number to rise.

The senior Michigan Republican's district was carried very narrowly by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in the 2008 presidential race. Political strategists from both parties were quick to say Wednesday they would compete for the seat.

"Voters in the Grand Rapids area have long supported Republican candidates who stand for limited government and pro-growth economic policies, and we are confident that they will continue to do so in November," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, said in a written statement.

Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told CNN, "As this race takes shape we are looking to see a strong Democratic candidate emerge in this district."

Filed under: GOP • Michigan • Popular Posts
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. REG in AZ

    Sarah Palin (and Todd as well) has clearly and repeatedly demonstrated that she is totally self-focused, without conscience, and then there are those who eagerly seek to use her to gain what they want. By satisfying her self-interests and egotistic drive with their strong support and backing they hope she becomes successful and is then in a position to dutifully do their bidding (example: George w. Bush). They once again would have a ‘puppet’ for their purposes and they would once again be ‘pulling the strings’ for the benefit of the few and at substantial costs to the many. The reason we have the drastic problems and the substantial costs we have is because the focus was arrogantly and irresponsibly totally on the goals of the few, while drastically neglecting all else and now ‘the piper has to be paid’. The problems aren’t because the Democrats are spending; the Democrats are spending because of the problems! To just ignore the problems or to return to ‘more of the same’ will only make matters worse. Those powerful, influential and extremely wealthy few who aggressively back and strongly support faulting / neglecting any action can easily survive the problems and even have the power to substantially profit from their control and investments. With Bush-Cheney they pushed it all through by relying on an abundance of subterfuge, covertly as well as overtly perpetrated, to manipulate and control public opinion. Right now we are again seeing the enormous efforts and costs being spent to once more control public opinion and aggressively manipulate the voters. It isn’t easy to resist being swayed because the deceptive appeals are made to people’s fears, emotions, biases, prejudices and loyalties but if they are successful with this subterfuge and establish another ‘puppet’, then we can look forward to the select few gaining more and the majority loosing more while we just endure ‘more of the same’. Hopefully the majority will see through the stubbornly presented deception and be more aware than they were in 2000 & 2004.

    February 10, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Independent Joe

    The liberals should run John Edwards for the seat. I hear he's looking for a job. However, there might be one problem. Do they offer four hunderd dollar hair cuts?

    February 10, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. jbakaregit

    Hey Sue, NY-23 hadn't gone Democrat since the CIVIL WAR. Obama won 9 Bush states. Some of them like Indiana & Virginia hadn't gone Democrat since 1964. And yes, Democrats lost the Massachusetts election, in a blue state.

    The point is every vote must be fought over, and no vote can be taken for granted. Both sides should have learned this.

    And finally Sue, what happened to the surplus Bill Clinton, a Democrat, left to Bush? What did the party of "limited government" and "fiscal conservatism" do with that surplus? The 90's saw the biggest economic boom since post WW2 economic boom. What happened during the Bush reign?

    February 10, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. Guest

    They should write an amendment with an age limit for senators and congressman. The older the politicians get, the more out-of-touch they are. Do we really need people 70+ running this country?

    February 10, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Sue February 10th, 2010 11:58 am ET

    This is a safe Republican district/seat. There is no way that the citizens of Grand Rapids area will put a Democrat in this seat-–not after what Obama and the Democrats have done to Michigan.

    The unemployment rates in some parts of Michigan, are some of the highest in the nation. The unemployment rate for Detroit alone, is supposed to be about 23%.

    I don't think that there is any way that the citizens of Michigan would be stupid enough to put a Democrat in this seat–and let them do even more damage.

    If Massachusetts was stupid enough to put a Republican in a strongly Democratic state, what makes you think that the reverse can't be true about Michigan being smart enough to elect a democrat? They've had a taste of useless Republicans and all they stand for and I'm sure they're ready for a democrat by now. If a democrat does take his seat, I'll be here to see your utter silence as you sit at your keyboard embarrassed at your comment.

    February 10, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. J.Crobuzon

    Sue, you REALLY think Bush crashing the economy is Obama's fault? People aren't buying cars anymore, because they can't afford them. Cars are made in Detroit; do the math. Go look it up; the economy went downhill right about the time McCain discovered Palin. And why spew your bile over a story about a respected and educated legislator retiring after a long and honorable career – shame on you! Some respect, ok?

    February 10, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Chris in NC

    Sue...are you kidding? This may or may not be a safe Republican district, but seriously, do you really blame Obama for the sinking ship otherwise known as the Michigan economy??? Maybe there hasn't been any improvement since last year's election, but the Michigan economy has been going down the tubes for quite a while, certainly well before Obama took office.

    February 10, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Danny

    To Sue: What exactly has Obama and the Dmocrats done to Michigan? What was the unemployment rate there at the end of 2008? What do you think the unemployment rate in Detroit would be now if the federal government had let GM & Chrysler go bankrupt? How about any of the Obama bashers tell me how the country is in worse shape now than it was in January 2009. Doesn't anyone remember that the "Great Recession" was in full force then? It's not like it just started the day he took office.

    February 10, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Joe Mo

    Sue, are you stupid. Bush destroyed your state the year before Obama took over.

    February 10, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. bts

    It just blows my mind that people are in such DENIAL!!!! Why is Michigan's unemployment rate blamed on Obama? If McCain had won the election, would it be the Republicans fault? What's done is done. We can't go back and "unfix" the problem, we can only go forward. And please don't repeat the same old tired Republican platform beliefs because that's been tried, and we still got to this point. And please don't blame people who've been foreclosed on, because many are collateral-damage foreclosures. They lost their homes because they lost their jobs because of the recession. And please don't blame Obama because you think he's inexperienced. He is highly intelligent....which I suspect is the MAIN problem that people have with him! He defies all the myths people have held against Blacks for years. His presence in such a prominent position forces you to admit that your parents, and friends and teachers LIED to you! And you CAN'T handle the truth!!!

    February 10, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. d1120

    75 should be the maximum age....is Robert Byrd still alive???

    February 10, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Michael from Grand Rapids

    Steph, you obviously know nothing about Grand Rapids and west michigan. Over the past twenty years, the grand rapids metro area and west michigan in general has consistently had a stronger economy than the rest of the state of Michigan. We have lower taxes, a more diversified economy led by a booming life sciences and medical corridor, and most importantly FAR less unemployment than the more heavily Unionized and Democrat east side of the state. Yes, we are struggling like the rest of Michigan (and the U.S.) but we are in far better shape than detroit and other metro areas in Michigan.

    And the rest of you who are bashing Vern Ehlers should all be ashamed of yourselves. Before entering public service, Ehlers was a physicist (He holds a Ph.D in Physics from the U of California-Berkeley) and a top notch professor at a local college. In his time in the House, he has been a moderate Republican who has worked tirelessly on issues of education, science, research, and the environment (naturally his passions). For this reason he is consistently elected with the support of a many Democrats and Independents in the Grand Rapids area and is respected in Washington for his expertise, intelligence, and gentle manner by members of both parties.

    All you liberals (and conservatives) need to put away your biases and recognize a truly special man.

    February 10, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    TO: Sue at 11:58am. Uh, Sue, what precisely has PRESIDENT Obama (I'm sick of people's disrespectful crap, e.g., Barry, Obummer, not clever, just infantile) done TO the people of Michigan since he's been in office? The Dow is back over 10,000, the non-stinking rich have gotten tax CUTS, not raises (I can attest to getting a lot more back than last year and I do work full-time, before you ask). The unemployment rate is slowly dropping – it takes time to undo all the damage done by the Cheney/Bush regime. Try to gather some actual Facts before you start ranting again – "the rate...is supposed to be about 23%". Who'd you hear that from Hannity, Carlson, Limbaugh??

    February 10, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Ryan

    Don't most people retire at 65?

    Oh wait, I suppose if you're a politician it's in your nature to hang on to any thread of power that you have until we are just about forced to pry it from your greedy little hands.

    With all the perks they get that the rest of us will never see... I suppose it's justified as to why they are so reluctant to retire. Whatever the case, anything that shrinks the Republicans more than than they've been shrunk is a sign of hope that the nation may be in the hands of progressive thinkers and not these old dinosaurs still obsessed with fossil fuel and corporate lobbyists.

    February 10, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Vince in NC

    Why so many old Congressmen and Senators. Why don't we have term limits?

    To many, serving for far to many years.

    February 10, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Adam from Ohio

    If this were a Dem, CNN would have a "ANOTHER DEMOCRAT FLEES SINKING SHIP" headline.

    February 10, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Pat F

    Steph, quit embarassing yourself in public.

    Grand Rapids is thriving. They have a successful public/private sector alliance, they are building a new airport – Grand Rapids is NOTHING like the Democratic Peoples Republic of Detroit, which is past dying, past rigor mortis, and well on the way to total decomposition.

    Did you ever have that dream where you are naked in public, Steph? Well, this is your dream come true – your ignorance is clear to anyone who knows this State. Whereever you are from, stay there.

    February 10, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Gil Oberdas

    More republicans not running. That will be a lot less "No's" for America!

    February 10, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. George Sales

    Excuse me, Sue, "What Obama and the Democrats have done to Michigan"? Lady, you're delusional!!! Apparently you and "Sarah" have forgotten what the Republican controlled congress and Bush/Cheney did to our economy and the middle class for eight years. Why, we could have overhauled healthcare had the country not spent a trillion dollars (and counting) on two failed wars. So President Obama and the Democrats are supposed to clean up this Republican mess in one year? PAALEASSE! Democrats and Independents, remember what senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is often quoted saying, "voters have a short memory." Apparently, Sue, falls into that category.

    February 10, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Really, Sue?!

    Because the Repukes have been so thrifty in the previous 8 years? Dumbya spent money like it was growing on the White House lawn. But I guess that would only be important to note if he had a (D) behind his name instead of an (R), right?

    Btw, are your parents brother & sister? Thought so.

    February 10, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Indeed, markiejoe, you have a made a very good point. The way it should have read is "Voters in the Grand Rapids area have long supported Republican candidates who SAY THEY stand for limited government ." They have already decided to vote Republican before they even consider the merits. They only want to be told what they want to hear and do not care to hear someone tell them "X is a problem and it's going to cost us money to fix it." The only people in this country who REALLY want something for nothing are the GOPers and ultra-conservative wingnuts. They think freedom and a healthy society are free and bought with nothing more than "just leave me alone." Any c-student of history should be able to point out that such thinking has been proven wrong EVERY SINGLE TIME. Newsflash: NOTHING costs more. Be glad we're in a position to buy it with money instead of blood.

    February 10, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. BM

    Take McCain with, Please!

    February 10, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. rblaz

    The #1 priority should be to make sure this seat does not go to one of these nutjob teabaggers. They just want to privatize everything so the insurance companies and the oil companies run the country.

    February 10, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. FormerGOP


    February 10, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Thanks for your service, Vern. Yes, this is a safe seat for the GOP - a lot safer that the "Kennedy seat," in fact.

    February 10, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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