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Benishek to Seek Fourth Term, Break Term-Limit Pledge (Updated)

Republicans say Benishek is one of the "most improved" candidates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Republicans say Benishek is one of the "most improved" candidates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:20 p.m. | Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek said Tuesday he has decided to break a self-imposed term limit and run for re-election next year.  

The Republican set a three-term limit during his first bid for Congress in 2010, when he won an open-seat race to replace Democrat Bart Stupak.  

“Career-consumed politicians in Washington got us into the mess we are in today by voting for bills they haven’t read, for the deficits America can’t sustain, and for the unrestrained increase in federal power,” Benishek said in a news release in September 2010. “That is why I am happy to tell voters I strongly favor term limits. Three terms and you’re retired seems about right to me.”  

But in an interview with a local radio station Tuesday, Benishek said he will try to stick around.  

“I’m happy to serve the people of northern Michigan if they’ll have me,” Benishek told IPR News. “And I’ve decided that I’m going to try to stay a little longer.”  

His campaign later released a statement from the congressman, who said it’s his “sincere hope that the voters of the 1st district” re-elect him to another term.  

“I recognize this conflicts with past statements I made when first running for office,” Benishek said in the statement. “After serving our veterans for 20-years as a doctor in our local VA hospitals, and now as the only Michigan member on the House Veterans Committee, I know that there is more work that must be done to ensure veterans are getting the benefits they have earned. But the fight to hold bureaucrats in Washington accountable won’t happen over night — it was a problem a long time in the making and will take a long time to undo.”  

Still, Democrats are likely to use the congressman’s change of heart against him in 2016.  

In 2012, the last presidential cycle, Mitt Romney won the northern Michigan-based 1st District by 8 points, but Benishek nearly lost his seat.  

Since then, Benishek earned the title of the “most-improved” candidate , according to national Republican operatives. He defeated retired Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, a Democrat, in 2014 by an 8-point margin.  

Cannon is mulling a rematch in 2016. State Rep. Scott Dianda, whose district includes a large swath of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is also looking at a run, according to Michigan Democratic operatives.  

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