Rep. Justin Amash announced Saturday that he will not be pursuing a third-party candidacy in this year's presidential election. The former Republican said that he had been watching the race unfold and concluded that "circumstances don't lend themselves to my success as a candidate."
Amash cited multiple factors as playing a part in his decision not to run for the White House, including high levels of political polarization and an "idled economy" that poses fundraising challenges. He also said social-distancing requirements implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic make lesser-known candidates "more dependent on adequate media opportunities to reach people."
Amash had been exploring a run for the Libertarian Party. The Republican turned independent turned Libertarian from Michigan has a conservative record on fiscal issues but is more liberal when it comes to issues involving civil liberties.
The Michigan representative proved himself controversial in Congress when he supported President Donald Trump's impeachment and chose to leave the GOP, earning the ire of party officials. Since then, he's lobbed fiery criticism against Trump, including critiques of his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, critics warned that a third-party bid from Amash could actually help Trump win the 2020 election by taking votes away from Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
"I like Justin. I love democracy. But I do think a 3rd party run increases the chances of Trump's re-election," tweeted Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential primary candidate who has endorsed Biden.
Amash said he believes the Libertarian Party is positioned to become a contender at the national level, but uncertainty over online voting due to the pandemic and the feasibility of getting on the ballot in all 50 states makes a third-party run particularly difficult this year.
"I continue to believe that a candidate from outside the old parties, offering a vision of government grounded in liberty and equality, can break through in the right environment," Amash said. "But this environment presents extraordinary challenges."