As Justin Amash zips along a parade route in Cutlerville, Mich., on June 8, there’s a method to his movement. Rather than marching down the middle of 68th Street behind a big red-and-white sign that announces him as the area’s congressman, he jogs from side to side, making quick calculations about who would like to shake his hand and who would like him simply to get out of the way of the fire trucks, antique cars, and karate-class students that follow. Toward the end of the procession, a man in a portable chair calls him over and points to the sign: “Change that sign to ‘senator’!” Amash barely pauses. “We’ll see,” he says.
Over the next few months, the 33-year-old Republican from Grand Rapids must make an important decision: Should he run for the Senate seat of the retiring Democrat Carl Levin, trying to become next year’s favorite tea-party insurgent? Or should he continue to build a career in the House, where he has already become an outspoken member of the GOP’s libertarian wing? “We like him,” says Chris Chocola of the Club for Growth, which funds fiscal conservatives. “If elected, he’d be a good senator.”