Dan Benishek, an Upper Peninsula medical doctor and tea party favorite, has done virtually nothing to earn re-election to Michigan's 1st Congressional District.
Despite the fact that Benishek represents more fresh-water coastline than any other member of Congress, he has been curiously hostile toward environmental issues and seems willing to put politics and the party line ahead of science and common sense.
He urged the federal government to give a pass to the SS Badger, the coal-fired car ferry that runs between Ludington and Wisconsin and dumps an estimated 8,000 pouds of fly ash into Lake Michigan every day, which got him named to the Michigan League of Conservation Voters' "Dirty Dozen" list.
He was named as one of the group's "Flat Earth Five" for rejecting the scientific consensus of climate change and global warming; he has an abysmal 3 percent lifetime score on the LCV's National Environmental Scorecard.
He vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act but offered essentially zero solutions to the nation's health insurance crisis beyond suggesting that insurance companies be given more leeway. As a medical doctor, that's unacceptable.
Gary McDowell, Benishek's Democratic opponent, has been involved in local government for 30 years and has a reputation as a strong advocate for natural resources and for being a moderate on social issues.
He wants to reform Social Security and Medicare but is much less radical than Benishek on those issues.
McDowell, a lifelong farmer, was elected to three, two-year terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. He was on the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners for 22 years, which the GOP equates — with a straight face — to being a "lifetime politician."
The choice here is as clear as it was in 2010 when Benishek rode the tea party wave into the House. Gary McDowell best represents the values and people of the 1st Congressional District (which includes most of northern Lower Michigan, incuding Traverse City, and all of the Upper Peninsula).