Harvard Kennedy School Student To Run for Republican Congress Seat in Michigan

Harvard Kennedy School student Bob Overbeek announced last week that he plans to pursue the Republican nomination for Michigan’s third congressional district election in November.

Overbeek, who will graduate in May, will seek office in his hometown of Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids.

The seat will be vacated by Rep. Vernon Ehlers, who has served nine consecutive terms. The Republican primary is set to be held on Aug. 3, and the general election will take place on Nov. 2.

“I’m going to fight for the opportunity to serve the people of west Michigan,” Overbeek said. “I’m just a hard-working person.”

“It’s pretty clear that politicians and leaders today are quickly losing [the support of] those whom we’re serving, the people,” Overbeek said, adding that he will not be part of “the business-as-usual crowd in west Michigan.”


With these sentiments in mind, Overbeek said he will bring an unconventional attitude to a dysfunctional political scene. “I think ‘big money’ in politics is counter to good governance, [and] I refuse to be beholden to anyone else but the people,” he said.

After completing his undergraduate studies in Michigan, Overbeek enlisted in the Air Force and served in Afghanistan. There, Overbeek said, he “had the opportunity to learn what service is all about.”

Seeking further education at the midpoint of his career, Overbeek chose to pursue the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration program at the Kennedy School. Overbeek said that the program motivates students to think about politics in unconventional ways. He also said hehopes to put the political techniques and theories he learned into practice during his campaign.

“Students get one shot at life, one shot to leave the world a better place than they found it,” said Steve Jarding, a lecturer who has worked with Overbeek in his time at the Kennedy School.

Overbeek said he looks forward to enlarging the scope of his campaign through the creation of a “home-grown” movement. Speaking of the possible involvement of his peers at the Kennedy School, Overbeek added that he “would welcome the opportunity to have them on board in any capacity.”

—Staff writer Andrew Z. Lorey can be reached at