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Benishek beats McDowell in 1st District contest

November 3, 2010
By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER Associated Press

DETROIT - Michigan's congressional delegation is going to look a whole lot different next year.

A full third of its 15 members will be new. And thanks to key wins in the 1st and 7th districts that drew on tea party support, Republicans will be in control.

Republican Dan Benishek, a surgeon from Crystal Falls, tapped into voter angst to convincingly beat Democratic state Rep. Gary McDowell of Rudyard and take the northern Michigan seat long held by Bart Stupak.

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After helping rescue President Barack Obama's health care plan by delivering a handful of votes from House Democrats, Stupak became an instant target for tea partiers and others who wanted him out of office. He then announced that he wouldn't seek a 10th term.

Benishek, 58, has called for deep cuts in government spending, favors repealing the health care law and pledged not to seek any funding ''earmarks'' for projects back home.

''There are serious challenges facing northern Michigan, but I am confident we can overcome them as we always have - with a renewed sense of patriotism and hope for the future,'' Benishek said.

The GOP's Tim Walberg unseated Democratic incumbent Mark Schauer, a freshman from Battle Creek, in the key 7th District race into which both national parties poured in more than $1 million over the past month and a half.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said last week it had spent more on the Walberg-Schauer race - a rematch from 2008 - than any other race in the country.

''The defeat last time wasn't necessarily because of my voting record, but was the tsunami wave that went through. But nonetheless, it was what it was,'' Walberg told The Associated Press early Wednesday. ''This time, I think the people were awakened to the fact that government could take over more control of our lives.''

Former state Rep. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and current state Rep. Justin Amash of Kent County's Cascade Township made it a 3-for-3 sweep in the GOP picking up open Michigan congressional seats.

Huizenga beat Democrat Fred Johnson, a Hope College history professor soundly defeated two years ago by Pete Hoekstra, who ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Amash, 30, defeated Democrat Pat Miles, a 43-year-old Harvard-educated attorney from Grand Rapids who picked up the endorsements of dozens of Republicans. But it wasn't enough to win the traditionally Republican district that retiring U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers represented for eight full terms.

First-term Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, meanwhile, was trying to hold on to his seat. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Peters had 49.3 percent of the vote to 47.7 percent for Republican Rocky Raczkowski, a businessman and Army Reserve officer from Farmington Hills. Outside groups pumped cash for negative ads and campaign mailings into the contentious Oakland County race.

Other Republican winners included Reps. Dave Camp of Midland, Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Mike Rogers of Howell, Candice Miller of Macomb County's Harrison Township and Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia.

Camp, who won an 11th term, is in line to chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where he now serves as the ranking Republican. The current chairman is fellow Michigan Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, a Democrat who also was re-elected Tuesday.

Other Democratic incumbents who won were Dale Kildee of Flint, John Conyers of Detroit and John Dingell of Dearborn.

Dingell won a 28th full term, extending his record of service in the House. It wasn't easy for the 84-year-old, who's been in Washington since the days of Dwight Eisenhower's presidency. Tea party-backed Republican Rob Steele pushed him throughout the election, and the man known as ''Big John'' responded with an aggressive campaign that included a number of TV ads critical of his 52-year-old challenger.

State Sen. Hansen Clarke easily beat Republican businessman John Hauler of Grosse Pointe Woods in the heavily Democratic 13th District. Clarke had triumphed in the primary over U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.



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