Earlier this month, Upton opted to retire rather than seek reelection following redistricting. He was one of a small group of House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump in January 2021 and who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package later that year.
Upton said that if Republicans only obtain a slim majority, that would give additional leverage to firebrand members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) who could complicate leadership’s ability to corral votes on key issues such as raising the debt ceiling.
“That’s why this over/under number is so important. Are we going to be over or under 230? If it’s under 230 … It will be very hard to govern for Republicans if we’re under 230, knowing that we’ve got the MTG element that’s really not a part of a governing majority,” said Upton, who was first elected in 1986.
A party needs 218 votes to constitute a majority in the House. Democrats at present have 221 members.
Upton conceded that some of these representatives who have caused headaches for Republicans in Washington are enduringly popular in their home districts.
He also expressed concern about the coarsening of American politics in recent years, saying it is a disincentive for quality candidates to pursue public service. Upton said he faced death threats following his vote for the infrastructure package.
“It puts you at risk, particularly when they threaten not only you … but when they threaten your spouse or your kids, or whatever, that’s what really makes it frightening,” he said.