Rep. Fred Upton, one of the longest-tenured Republicans in the House of Representatives, has decided to retire rather than seek reelection in 2022.
Upton was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump in January 2021, saying in a statement that “our country cannot and will not tolerate any effort by any president to impede the peaceful transfer of power.” Now, Upton is the fourth of those 10 to retire, joining Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) in exiting Congress.
Upton announced his retirement in a speech on the House floor Tuesday morning. Speaking to reporters afterward, Upton pointed to redistricting as a key factor in his decision to retire, rather than backlash he faced over his impeachment vote.
“My district was cut like Zorro — three different ways,” the Michigan Republican told reporters. “So I’ve been here 36 years. When I first ran, I thought I’d be here 10.”
“I got a lot of unfinished business that I’m going to be working on now. … But no, this was our decision, independent of what I did with Trump,” added Upton, who was first elected in 1986.
Trump endorsed a Republican primary challenger against Upton, state Rep. Steve Carra. And redistricting also put Upton on a collision course with fellow GOP Rep. Bill Huizenga for the newly drawn district, had he decided to run for reelection.
For a time, it appeared that was Upton’s plan. He turned in a big fundraising quarter to end 2021, and he spent more than $400,000 in early 2022 to air a TV ad in which he declared, “I’m not afraid to take on anyone when they’re wrong and work with anyone who’s right.”
“If you want a rubber stamp as your congressman, I’m the wrong guy,” Upton continued in the ad, which touted his work in Congress on taxes, law enforcement and fighting diseases.
Upton, who previously chaired the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, leaves behind a record of bipartisan legislation. He cited the 21st Century Cures Act as his biggest accomplishment, which he said survived a Senate filibuster and paved the way for the FDA to approve vaccines for Covid.
“That’s probably our biggest achievement,” Upton said.
He was accompanied by his close friend, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), on the House floor while delivering his speech, as he pointed to his next chapter with his family.
“Debbie was my first call,” said Upton. “She didn’t answer.”
“I didn’t want to get the news,” she replied.