Michigan’s race between former two-term Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land of Kent County and third-term Congressman Gary Peters, D-Oakland County, is one of the nation’s most high-profile U. S. Senate battles. There is increased focus on the expensive third party ad war about who will succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin.
Americans for Prosperity, a high-powered conservative group, has spent more that $1 million zapping Peters — the latest ad featuring a cancer patient Michigan woman who criticized him for supporting Obamacare.
The Washington Post Fact-Checker column cast doubt on her implication that Peters’ vote threatens her life. Peters is among a half dozen or so targeted Democrats whose races are getting national media attention.
(I said at the outset that the ad war is “about” candidates who will replace Levin, rather than between them, because the forces supporting Peters have yet to equally weigh in and the candidates themselves have yet to battle on the airwaves.)
My focus here is not on the ad war. It’s on the low-profile but always important ground war, following Peters’ extensive swing last week across the Upper Peninsula, with some time below the bridge. Land made some U.P. and other northern stops last year, and contemplates more soon.
While Land is leading in funding and some polls, Peters, reached by phone on the campaign trail, said, “we are keeping pace,” getting contributions from more than 11,000 people from all 83 counties.
In Sault Ste. Marie, Peters said in the Soo Evening News: “We’re traveling across the U.P., listening to people. We started in Escanaba and have talked to a range of folks. Small business people, and those downtown, are the heart and soul of a community. We want to hear about their problems and what we can do to help.”
In Escanaba, according to the Daily News, he stressed need for local control on Upper Peninsula forestry issues.
In the Houghton Mining Gazette: He hopes to bring “practical problem-solving skills” to the Senate. His focus will be “kitchen table” issues of the kind touted on his tour.
In the Iron Mountain Daily News: “Since the first day I announced this campaign, I have been traveling our great state because I want to hear directly from people across Michigan” about creating jobs, protecting small business and other issues.
I cite local issues because of need to keep them in mind as well as Obamacare and other national issues during this year’s campaign to decide who will replace Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator.
Michigan: Centrist on Capitol Hill
Michigan has some flaming liberals and hard-line rightwingers on Capitol Hill, but on balance this month’s annual vote ratings of our 14-member House delegation by the National Journal ranks Michigan among 14 “centrist” states along with neighbors Wisconsin and Minnesota.
(Ohio and Indiana are among the Midwest states ranked most conservative with respect to Congressional representation, while Illinois is among the most liberally-ranked. Nationally, Vermont has the most liberal U.S. House delegation, while Kansas is home to the most conservative.)
Of particular interest in these parts is that 1st District Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, who faces a strong challenge from Democrat Jerry Cannon, former Kalkaska County sheriff, is in the centrist crowd, cited by the National Journal in its voting record “Middle” category, with a 40.3 liberal score.
Others representing northern counties on the liberal scale: 2nd District Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, was at 15.2, and 4th District Dave Camp, R-Midland, at 26.8. Neither faces a serious challenge.
I mentioned at the outset that Michigan’s delegation had a flaming liberal. That’s 25th term Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, at 92.3 — 20th most liberal in the House, according to the National Journal.
Michigan’s least liberal congressmen — at 13.0 — is 7th District Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, a frequent target of national Democrats.
As for Congressman Peters — the Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful: his liberal rating by the National Journal is 61.0. That ranks him as the 175th most liberal member of the 435-member House - a centrist rating for this centrist state.
George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.