BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan's 1st Congressional District may go to a recount to determine if incumbent Republican Dan Benishek's victory will hold.
Democratic challenger Gary McDowell had not conceded defeat as of Wednesday, disputing the final numbers compiled by the Associated Press. The AP gave Benishek a 2,297 vote victory, less than 1 percent of the more than 346,000 ballots cast.
McDowell, a former state Representative from Rudyard, said in a prepared release he wants to ensure that all absentee, provisional and military ballots are counted. His campaign is looking to resolve discrepancies between the AP-reported numbers and tallying errors in some counties as county board of canvassers began Wednesday certifying results.
"I am so proud of the grassroots campaign we built to fight for hard-working middle class families in Northern Michigan," McDowell said in the release. "We owe it to them and our overseas military to let the process continue and make sure that all absentee and provisional ballots are counted."
Both McDowell and Benishek had representatives present as the canvassing board began its review in Grand Traverse County, said Linda Coburn, county clerk. She said the process will likely run into next week.
"It's going to be pretty hard to find over 2,000 votes," she said.
Benishek was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
A general surgeon from Crystal Falls, Benishek announced his victory for a second term Wednesday morning. The race see-sawed back and forth throughout the night as vote counts slowly trickled in from the sprawling 1st District.
"Michigan's 1st District voted for jobs, the American dream, and limited government, but just because the election is over does not mean our job is done," Benishek said in a prepared release. "For the next two years my focus will remain on bringing jobs back to Northern Michigan, reigning in the spending and fighting to keep the American dream alive for our children and grandchildren."
Benishek won four out of five counties in northwest Michigan, with his biggest lead coming in Grand Traverse County where he captured 51.3 percent of the ballots for a 3,500 vote lead.
Benishek easily won Antrim County and took Kalkaska and Leelanau counties by a few hundred votes each. McDowell narrowly edged out Benishek in Benzie County by 121 votes.
Voters at the polls said they were tired of the campaign after special interests spend over $6 million, mostly in attack ads.
"That one was the nastiest out there and I'm not too fond of either of them right now, said Dave Starkey of Acme Township.
The negative campaigning cost both candidates Tammy Peck's vote.
"I did not like either one of them, I voted Green (Party)," the Acme Township resident said.
Patti Hresko of Elk Rapids voted for McDowell, she said, "because there were more things I didn't like about Benishek."
Jenifer Hamlet of Elk Rapids said she supported Benishek as a counter weight to her vote for President Barack Obama.
"I didn't want one side to have all the power and I wanted some good diversity in (Washington)," she said. "They are about as different as you can get."