Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 23, 2010

Ex-GOP nominee endorses Democrat in 1st District


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---- — CHARLEVOIX (AP) — A Republican who once ran against Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak endorsed Democrat Gary McDowell on Friday to succeed Stupak in Congress.

Gil Ziegler announced his support of McDowell in the 1st House District, which includes the Upper Peninsula and part of the northern Lower Peninsula.

"We need people at all levels of government who are willing to put party aside, work with other people and just get the job done," Ziegler said in a statement released by the McDowell campaign. "In this race Gary McDowell is the only candidate who will do that."

Ziegler, a Charlevoix businessman, was the GOP nominee for the seat in 1994, but lost to Stupak 57 percent to 42 percent. He was the president of Alken-Ziegler Inc., a former auto parts plant that was among Kalkaska County's largest employers until the plant closed a couple years ago. Ziegler also owned commercial property in downtown Traverse City and is a former president of the Northern Michigan University Board of Control.

Stupak is not seeking re-election this year.

McDowell is a state representative from Rudyard. The Republican nominee is Dan Benishek, an Iron Mountain surgeon.

McDowell said Ziegler was among many northern Michigan voters "who have taken a step back from a partisan frame of mind" in choosing whom to support.

Benishek's campaign noted that Ziegler also led a Republican group that backed Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's re-election in 2006.

"As a strong supporter of Gov. Granholm, it is no surprise that Mr. Ziegler would endorse Gary McDowell, who has been a reliable vote for the job-killing Granholm agenda," spokesman Trent Benishek said.