DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who has been a prominent voice as President Barack Obama attempts to overhaul U.S. surveillance, said Friday that he won’t seek re-election after his term ends this year.
“Wow, holy cow,” WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said upon hearing the news. “This came out of absolutely no where.”
Rogers, a seven-term Republican, announced his plans during an interview on a Detroit radio station. The 50-year-old former FBI agent, who has been invited regularly to talk about national security issues on TV and radio, said he’ll serve out the end of his term and plans to start a national radio program
“It’s a pretty rare opportunity,” Rogers said “They don’t come around every day.”
Skubick said Rogers’ retirement has taken Lansing by surprise.
“I talked to Mr. Rogers a couple of weeks ago when he was in town and he gave me, of course, no hint that he was thinking about this,” he said. “And this is a shocker because usually when folks are going to retire, they send some signals out.”
Rogers held a lot of sway in Washington, and Skubick said anybody who wants his seat needs to move quickly.
“You very, very seldom have an open Congressional seat and when that does happen, they come out of the woodwork to run for it. So, the list will be a mile long,” he said. “Whoever is going to run for this soon-to-be vacant seat has until April 22 to decide to get into this contest.”
Last year, Rogers had said he would not run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan this year, saying the best way for him to make a difference in Washington is staying in the House. As Intelligence Committee chairman, he has a prominent role on American national security issues.
“I believe in being a productive conservative, meaning you have to move the ball forward, and that voice is just missing out there,” Rogers said. “And I want to have the opportunity to talk about it.”
On Thursday, responding to public outrage over the National Security Agency program, the Obama administration on came up with a new program that it says would address privacy concerns and preserve the government’s ability to fight terrorism.
A proposal from the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, which also has bipartisan support, has some similarities to Obama’s plan in that it would call for the government to query phone companies directly. However, Rogers’ plan would not require prior court approval of searches.
Rogers has been in the House since 2001. He previously was a state senator from 1995 to 2000.
“When I first started, I asked voters to give me two years to see if we could make a difference,” he said. “I think we’ve done a lot of that.”
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