Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 21, 2013

George Weeks: Benishek's seat called 'precarious'

In his first two congressional campaigns, 1st District Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, had squeaker wins and now is described by Inside Michigan Politics (IMP) newsletter as next year having “the most precarious seat” in the Michigan GOP’s nine-member House delegation.

In 2010, seeking the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, the Upper Peninsula surgeon defeated state Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City (who temporarily moved just north into the district) by a mere 15 votes out of nearly 90,000 cast. He then won 52 percent of the vote in defeating state Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard.

In 2012, Benishek had a narrow win by a 48.1 percent plurality over McDowell, who as a United Parcel Service truck driver was a Teamsters Union member for over 30 years, was a Chippewa county commissioner, and a hay farmer who had clever ads campaign TV ads among the bales of his product.

While IMP and others have wondered whether Benishek will run again, his camp said Friday: “Dr. Benishek is seeking a third term in office.” The camp also offered yet another array of criticisms on “the ever-campaigning Barack Obama.”

Benishek is a frequent target of attacks from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dispatched to media outlets in his district, as the committee does to other districts that it targets.

For example, on April 15: “As Americans file to meet the Tax Day deadline today, here’s a reminder that Congressman Benishek is stubbornly committed to protecting tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil companies, and special interests.”

In citing figures that the DCCC used against other Republicans, it said, “According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budget Congressman Benishek supports would mean millionaires get ‘an average net tax cut of about $245,000’ while “families with children that have incomes below $200,000 would have to face tax increases averaging more than $3,000 a year.’ House Republicans like Congressman Benishek have voted to protect taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies already making record profits and to cut the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.”

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