In seeking a third term this year, 1st District US. Rep. Dan Benishek, D-Crystal Falls, faces a new dynamic. In his first two general elections, his opponent was a fellow Yooper, state Rep. Gary McDonnell, D-Rudyard.
This year, his opponent undoubtedly will be a Democrat with a substantial military and law enfocement background who is from below the bridge and was recruited and highly touted by top party leaders.
I first heard last year about retired Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, former Kalkaska County sheriff, with raves in a call from from Democratic State Chairman Lon Johnson, who also has a Kalkaska area family background and ran for a legislative seat from the area.
Last week, after Cannon, 65, now of Fife Lake, made his first extensive tour of the U.P. (which has 15 counties in the sprawling district compared to 17 below the Bridge), I reached him by phone.
Cannon told Larry Holcombe of the Ironwood Daily Globe: “We’re talking to community leaders, government leaders, business leaders, unions, veterans, firemen; asking them what is on their mind. The bottom line is bringing people better representation, and what do we do get some jobs going around here.”
What was most on minds of the folks he talked with from Ironwood and Ontonagon in the west to St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie in the east?
Cannon told me: “The economy and jobs,” with many issues involving small business. He also said that the biggest employers in the Upper Peninsula are the Native American tribes with their casinos and other enterprises.
Cannon was a 1967-69 Vietnam veteran with the Marines, a 1977-2011 member of the Michigan Army National Guard, and for two years commander of Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. He said it has served its purpose and it “is time to shut it down.”
As noted by the National Review, “something funny is going on” in the race. It noted a quote in the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette attributted to Cannon: “I don’t like Obamacare. It’s been a disaster for me. I want to go back to the way it was before.”
The paper, which had an interview with him, said it got the quote from a subsequent call to him. In my phone chat, Cannon said, “I said nothing like that.” Beats me, but it’s notable that the national parties and media see this as an interesting race.
Land’s laudable stance
Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, the likely 2014 Republican nominee for the U.S Senate, did the right thing Friday in calling on her fellow Michigan member of the Republican National Committee Dave Agema to resign for his controversial slams against gay and Muslims.
“I think what is best for Dave, is that he resigns,” she said in joining most Republicans in Michigan’s congressional delegation.
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.