Rep. Mike Rogers to retire, launch national radio show

Updated 9:04 a.m.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, plans to retire from Congress after his current term to host a national radio show syndicated by Cumulus Media, he announced Friday.


Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). (Photo by Bloomberg)

Rogers, 50, made the announcement in a statement and during interviews on Michigan radio stations Friday morning.

"I have always believed in our founders' idea of a citizen legislature," he said in his statement. "I had a career before politics and always planned to have one after. The genius of our institutions is they are not dependent on the individual temporary occupants privileged to serve."

Lew Dickey, the CEO of Cumulus, said, "We are thrilled to have Chairman Rogers join our team. He has been instrumental helping to shape many of the most important issues and events of our time and will play a significant role in our expanding content platform."

Cumulus own 460 radio stations nationwide and syndicates its programming to thousands more.

In joining Cumulus, Rogers will work for a radio network that already syndicates programs from some of the medium's biggest draws, including Don Imus, Mark Levin, Carson Daly, Michael Savage and Mike Huckabee.

Rogers has served in Congress since 2001 and is a former FBI agent who had been mentioned as a possible nominee to lead the FBI or CIA. In recent years he's been a regular guest on Sunday morning political talk shows and last year topped the list of lawmakers who appear most frequently on those programs. He has served as a critic of President Obama but more recently has been a defender of the National Security Agency following reports by The Washington Post and other news organizations about the scope of the agency's surveillance programs.

This week, Rogers and Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) introduced a measure that would allow the government to seek court approval of a suspect’s phone number after it is sent to the phone company for a query. The proposal came the same week that Obama called on Congress to quickly approve changes to the NSA's surveillance program.

Rogers is a close ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and is the third sitting House committee chairman to announce his retirement this year. He is the 25th member of the House and the third member of the Michigan congressional delegation to announce plans to step down. Already Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) have announced their retirements. This year, more House Republicans than House Democrats have announced plans to retire.

Rogers declined overtures by Republicans last year to run for Levin's seat, saying at the time that he could be more effective as chairman of the intelligence panel.

Rogers hails from a safely Republican district and he didn't dispute suggestions Friday that his brother Bill might run for the seat. Rogers said in one of his radio interviews Friday that an announcement could come in the next few days.

Democrats, however, are optimistic the decision by the popular Rogers not to run again could open the door for them to compete for his GOP-leaning district. Mitt Romney won 51 percent there 2012 while Obama got 48 percent.

In addition to Rogers's brother, Republicans familiar with the district pointed to former state Senate majority leader Mike Bishop (R), former state House speaker Craig DeRoche (R) and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R) as three more possibilities.

A Democrat familiar with the district pointed to Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum (D) as a potential candidate. Bynum performed the state's first same-sex marriage ceremony this week and her mother ran a very competitive campaign against Rogers in 2000, barely losing to him.

Republicans are confident they can hold the seat, even without Rogers. They noted that Florida's 13th district, a more favorable area to Democrats, didn't slip into that party's hands in a recent special election. And in a non-presidential year, it will be difficult for Democrats to ramp up turnout and spring an upset in Michigan's 8th district.

"I wish Mike and his family all the best and have every confidence we will elect another Republican leader from this district in November," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.).

Potential candidates won't have much time to make up their minds: The filing deadline is April 22.

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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