From 5th to 3rd and President Ford: A brief look at who's represented GR in DC

Posted at 12:06 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 12:13:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Out of the 435 House seats up for election this year, to find a competitive race garnering national attention, look no further than West Michigan.

Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, comprised of most of Kent, Barry, Ionia and Calhoun counties, is up for grabs for the first time in a long time.

It centers around Grand Rapids and has largely been the same since it was redrawn in 1993; Battle Creek was added to the district in 2012.

Though dating back even further than that, the district has been a GOP stronghold since it was the 5th district that Grand Rapids called home.

That seat was most famously held by the late President Gerald Ford who represented the district from 1949 until 1973 when he left Congress to become the vice president.

In fact, the last Democrat to represent Grand Rapids in congress came right after, in GR native Richard Vander Veen, who served just three years until 1977.

Republicans Harold Sawyer, Paul Henry and Vern Ehlers followed after.

The seat staying “Red” until the end of 2019, when incumbent Rep. Justin Amash ultimately left the Republican Party.

“I thought it was important to stand up and set an example for people and say ‘we’ve had enough of the party politics,” Amash told FOX 17 in July of 2019.

A year later, Amash announced he was not seeking reelection, opening the door for two political newcomers.

“We are on the brink of making history this year, by electing the first democrat in almost half a century to represent this district, and the first woman ever,” Hillary Scholten told a crowd while campaigning in GR.

Democratic Candidate Hillary Scholten could be the first woman to ever represent Michigan’s second largest city.

Whereas her opponent, Republican Peter Meijer wants to fill the shoes of the late president he knew personally.

That’s exactly the type of leadership that West Michigan needs, that’s not only looking towards the the long-term and making sure we’re strongly represented, but also not afraid to work with anybody, reach across the aisle,” Meijer said.

With just over two weeks until election, the we’ll give you an inside look at each of their campaigns this week on FOX 17.