With just over a month to go before the vote between 1st District freshman U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, and Democratic challenger Gary McDowell of Rudyard, this is the situation in their highly competitive and nationally-watched rematch in the sprawling district that is the second-largest east of the Mississippi:
n There's quite a mudslide across the district's 32 counties. Attack ads abound, with each contender, and swarms of PAC ads run on their behalf, accusing the other of assorted evils.
Benishek, a surgeon, calls ex-state Rep. McDowell, a hay farmer, a high-tax "career politician." The Benishek camp says McDowell voted in Lansing for $1.3 billion in tax hikes during the administration of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The McDowell camp says Benishek voted on Capitol Hill against interests of seniors.
To link McDowell with Granholm, Benishek has a clever TV ad with a photo of McDowell's head atop a cartoon drawing of him bouncing across the screen with a silent video in the background of Granholm's fist-pumping, arm-swinging speech at the Democratic National Convention. It ends with Dr. Dan, in hospital garb, approving the ad.
(Granholm, who has her own TV show, is on a national TV roll. She was interviewed Saturday on CNN about her book and call for a "job creation competition.")
My nod for the best TV ad visual in the race so far: McDowell driving a huge tractor cutting hay, with seagulls circling aloft, as he spouts anti-Benishek comments on waste in government. At the end, an aerial view of a field shows a giant "Cut Waste" image (in reality, created by computer, not carved by McDowell's tractor.)
Negative ads long have been standard fare in political campaigns. These ads although prolific, are relatively tame compared to some past Michigan campaigns.