National Harbor, MD — Former Michigan Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis will announce he is “very seriously considering” a run for the United States Senate Thursday evening at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington.
Anuzis, a former candidate for GOP chairman and the past chair of the Michigan party, is exploring a run to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin in 2014 at a reception at the annual conservative gathering, he confirmed to TIME.
“I think this is a unique opportunity for Michigan Republicans,” he said. “We have traditionally been a purple state that can go red under the right circumstances. If you take a look at off-presidential years, this has been when we’ve won our governorships and other statewide races. I think there is a mood in this country for non-traditional politicians. Sometime you just want an average guy. I’m not the Harvard graduate; I’m not the big shot business guy. I’ve lived a real life and I think there are a lot of people who will find that appealing.”
The long-time Republican operative said he has been in contact with donors, conservative leaders, and other officials about his potential candidacy, adding that “they’ve all been very encouraging.”
Several leading candidates, including Rep. Candice S. Miller and former Republican president candidate Mitt Romney’s brother Scott Romney, have already said they will not run. Rep. Justin Amash, who has positioned himself as the House of Representatives’ most outspoken libertarians since the retirement of Ron Paul, is said to be considering a run.
A coalition of tea party members and Ron Paul supporters ousted Anuzis as committeeman in 2012 at the state party convention, and several Michigan Republican operatives said that if Amash runs they expect the primary to be a test case for Karl Rove’s effort to pick more electable nominees in state and local primaries.
“If some strong candidates emerge, the most important thing for the party is for us to take the seat,” he said, indicating he would step aside if he though a more electable candidate came forward. “I’m not going to get involved in a dirty primary if I think they are a better candidate and can win in the general. I want to win the seat.”
Anuzis is the program director of CPAC, which the potential candidate said has proven to be an important networking opportunity if he decides to run.
“It’s like speed-dating with every conservative movement official in the country,” he said.