WASHINGTON — Today may be April Fool’s Day, but Dave Camp’s announcement yesterday was no joke.
The longtime congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee will not be pursuing re-election this year. He has served 24 years for the 4th Congressional District, which encompasses the central and northwest section of Michigan, including 15 counties: Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montcalm, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Saginaw, Shiawassee and Wexford.
“Serving in Congress is the great honor of my professional life,” said Camp in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “I am deeply grateful to the people of the 4th Congressional District for placing their trust in me. Over the years, their unwavering support has been a source of strength, purpose and inspiration.”
Camp, 60, is the second senior Michigan Republican to announce his retirement in the past week. Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Friday that he would retire. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, is also retiring, as is Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan. The four elected officials have served a combined total of more than 120 years.
State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, was as surprised as anyone when he learned of Camp’s announcement Monday afternoon.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Outman said. “He’s a really down-to-earth guy. It’s going to be a big loss nationally and regionally due to the power that he wields there and the experience that we’re losing. He’s been supportive of me since I’ve been in office. His staff is readily available.
“I wish him well,” Outman said. “I hope he stays healthy.”
Camp battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy and said he was cancer-free in December 2012.
Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, said she first became acquainted with Camp when she was a Farm Bureau delegate and he was a newly elected congressman.
“You could see that he took it very seriously,” Emmons said. “He was not arrogant, he was not boastful, he just really felt a responsibility for his district. He was a good sounding board, especially as I moved from the House to the Senate. He and his staff have always been very helpful.”
An advocate for overhauling the federal tax code, Camp last month unveiled a far-reaching plan to revamp the nation’s tax laws that would wipe out a slew of popular tax breaks to help pay for lower overall tax rates. It would repeal deductions for state and local taxes, medical expenses and moving expenses. Tax credits for child care, adoption services and energy-efficient upgrades to homes would be gone as well.
“During the next nine months, I will redouble my efforts to grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American by fixing our broken tax code, permanently solving physician payments for seniors, strengthening the social safety net and finding new markets for U.S. goods and services,” said Camp in Monday’s statement.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was elected to the House the same year as Camp. Boehner said in a statement Monday that he will miss his colleague.
“From the beginning, I have been impressed by his wisdom and thoughtfulness, and grateful for his friendship,” the speaker said. “He has been a leader in the fight to increase economic growth and help create more American jobs by reforming our tax code, pushing for more effective free trade agreements, and saving Social Security and Medicare for future generations.”
Anyone interested in running for Camp’s seat will have to act quickly — the filing deadline is April 22 and candidates must gather 1,000 signatures by then.
“It’s going to be interesting to see who fills his shoes,” Outman said. “Like everyone else I’m just watching to see who’s jostling for his position.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.