Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 27, 2014

George Weeks: National focus on Benishek-Cannon race

The national focus escalated last week on Michigan’s 1st District race between two-term U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, and Democratic challenger Jerry Cannon, former Kalkaska County sheriff and a retired major general.

On April 22, Inside Michigan Politics (IMP) newsletter, citing a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo it obtained, said the race is one of four where the DCCC will be “on offense” in Michigan. The other three are downstate.

Both Benishek and Cannon held recent fund-raisers in the vote-rich Grand Traverse area.

Last week, Cannon held one in Traverse City, where he said his priorities would focus on economic, environmental and education issues. Earlier, Benishek had a fund-raiser in Leelanau County as part of his extensive swings below the bridge in the sprawling 32-county district. (quote to come)

The IMP newsletter said: “The DCCC claims the Democratics are ‘on offense,’ despite the fact that many analysts expect 2014 to be a good GOP year—as the sixth year of a president’s term tends to be for the oppositional party. University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato for instance, currently predicts Republicans will net five to eight seats in November.”

(For decades, I have viewed Sabato as one the nation’s most astute political commentators.)

IMP said: “Another reason why Michigan is a big factor in the DCCC’s 2014 playbook is that the number of competitive districts has shrunk nationally in recent cycles. So the playing field just isn’t that big.

“The memo uses the familiar language or juxtaposing Democrats representing the middle class with Republicans who ‘voted over and over again for budgets that give tax breaks to companies for shipping jobs overseas.’”

Republican analyst Dennis Darnoi of Revsix disputes the DCCC memo, saying he had to check its date “because these ineffetive talking points from 2010, when Democrats fresh off the ‘historic elections of 2008’ were primed to win Congressional races in the 11th and 1st, retake the Michigan House and implement the first wave of their two-cycle Strategy in the state Senate.

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