The Doctor Is OUT: Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek Says He’s Done With D.C.

Congressman and Doctor Dan Benishek has announced he will retire from Congress in 2016 (Photo via Rep. Dan Benishek)

Dan Beshinek, a Republican Doctor elected to the House in 2010 from Michigan’s First Congressional District, announced this week he will not seek a fourth term and will retire in 2016.

“Today I’m announcing that I won’t seek re-election next year, which will allow me to focus my time and attention on helping our veterans and working to make things better for the families and workers throughout Northern Michigan, and devote more time to my family,” Benishek said in a press release.

According to Roll Call:

Benishek’s decision to retire instead of run for re-election is a change of course for the three-term Republican. In March, he said he would run for a fourth term, despite his earlier pledge. His decision to retire leaves vacant his 1st District seat, which GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried by an 8-point margin in 2012.

The seat was held by former Rep. Bart Stupak, a Blue Dog Democrat, for nearly two decades before he retired in 2010 in the middle of the Republican wave that year and after he cast one of the deciding votes in the House for the Affordable Care Act.

The race is rated a Leans Republican contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

Democrats were already targeting the seat for a pickup this cycle even before Benishek’s retirement. They think the race will be more competitive for an open seat.

Benishek’s departure is expected to create an exciting primary in MI-1, a region already nicknamed “The Fighting First” in some Michigan circles because of frequent hard-hitting political battles throughout the district.

Seasoned political veterans like former State Senators Jason Allen and Tom Casperson are among many names being mentioned for the seat. State Rep. Lee Chatfield, a popular freshman legislator whose Mackinac area House district includes municipalities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as the lower, is also receiving tons of buzz. Chatfield is a political newcomer, but the former teacher has proven he knows how to win a tough fight: he ousted a well-connected incumbent in the August 2014 primary to win his seat in the legislature.

Other names mentioned include State Rep. Peter Pettalia and State Senator Wayne Schmidt. The first poll in the race is expected later today, stay tuned…