One of the year’s most closely watched congressional races is taking place in Michigan’s First District, which Bart Stupak currently represents. Stupak is retiring.
The Republicans nominated surgeon Dan Benishek, winner of the primary by only 15 votes. The Democratic candidate is Gary McDowell. In the only poll I have seen on this race (by a group called WeAskAmerica, in early August) Benishek led McDowell by a 45-29 margin.
However, the race is rated as toss-up by both Larry Sabato and Real Clear Politics, and perhaps with good reason. Glenn Wilson, the owner of a telecom business, is running as an independent, ostensibly from Benishek’s right. Although this account from a Michigan news outlet suggests there isn’t much difference between the two, Wilson is casting himself as the more “pure” conservative candidate. That perception, if it sticks, could erode Benishek’s vote and swing the district in favor of the Democrat.
Benishek just got some good news, though. Wilson had planned to spend up to two million dollars of his own money on his campaign. But the Federal Election Commission disapproved of his plan to use his stock in his company as collateral for a private loan to fund the campaign. Thus, Wilson will have to rely on contributions.
The three-way race in MI-1 is not unlike important races elsewhere. In fact, I have it on good authority, from within the Democratic campaign hierarchy, that the Dems are pinning their hopes of retaining control of the House on third party candidates like Wilson. Given the unpopularity of Democrats nationwide, third party candidates probably represent the main obstacle to substantially halting President Obama’s radical transformation of this country.
Ironically, it’s the Democrat in MI-1 who should be worrying about a third party candidate. Bart Stupak was able to represent this district because he campaigned as a moderate and, of course, as pro-life. McDowell is taking the same approach. This leaves an obvious opening for a liberal candidate.
Yet the Green Party candidate, a labor lawyer who is pro-choice, anti-war, and (of course) “green,” reportedly is gaining little traction. That’s because liberals seem to have learned their lesson about leftist third-party candidates in 2000, with Ralph Nader. It’s a lesson Repubicans may also have to learn the hard way.
To contribute to the Benishek campaign, go here.
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