BY ALEX PIAZZA
TRAVERSE CITY — A self-employed contractor won't rely on name recognition or his wallet to earn a seat atop the 105th state House District.
Compare that stance to his opponent, a former television meteorologist with plenty of name recognition and endorsements from powerful state organizations.
Democratic candidate Greg Dean understands he fits the underdog role heading into the Nov. 2 election against Republican candidate Greg MacMaster, but he's comfortable with that tag.
"I'm a realist and I understand that my chances are slim, given the name recognition of my competitor," Dean, 46, of Elmira, said. "I'm pretty low-key. I could be a sleeper."
Dean and MacMaster, 48, of Kewadin, are vying for an open seat in the traditionally Republican district that includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Otsego and most of Cheboygan counties. Term-limited state Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, who holds the seat, is running for 86th District judge.
Both candidates' campaigns stress limited government and job growth across northern Michigan.
"Right now, our government is too big," MacMaster said. "We need to downsize our government, and not just at the local level."
MacMaster believes tax burdens and regulatory fees have prevented the region from attracting new businesses.
"Businesses have left our district to see better operating environments in other states," he said. "Our state agencies need to be more friendly to those setting up shop in Michigan. We want to see jobs come back."
Dean agrees. He contends the state should further seek alternative energy sources and extend tax breaks for young entrepreneurs, in an attempt to diversify Michigan's economy.
"I'm unhappy with the way our government is operating," he said. "This has to stop if we want Michigan to grow."
Dean said he has yet to spend any money on his campaign. He ran unopposed in the August primary election and plans to use his old campaign signs from previous elections.
"That's a tough thing to overcome, coming in as a lesser-known candidate and one who isn't actually involved in a political party," he said.
Dean is running on the Democratic ticket, but previously ran for office as a Republican and a Libertarian. He considers himself a "conservative Democrat."
"I'm a fella that kind of rides the fence," he said. "I run on principle more than anything else."
MacMaster also doesn't bring a wealth of political experience to the table, but he said Michigan needs a candidate who can bring a common sense approach to Lansing. He beat out five candidates on the Republican ticket in the August primary election.
"Everyone else was touting political experience," he said. "One thing that nobody was touting is common sense. That's what our government needs desperately is common sense."