Tuesday 28 October 2008

MI 07 and 09

The state of Michigan has attracted much interest during these elections. It has backed Democratic presidential candidates in recent years, but was seen as 'weak democratic' earlier this month, 'barely democratic' until 26th September and 'barely Republican in June'. McCain's decision to pull resources from the state in October was much commented upon. Senator Carl Levin seems to be in a strong position to win re-election. Two House seats are being hotly contested.

MI 07

This district covers the southern part of the state, between the 6th district to the west and the 15th district to the east. The 3rd (with Grand Rapids its major town), the 8th (based on Lansing - the State Capital: and the former district of a friend of this blog, Bob Carr) & the 11th district (on the outskirts of Detroit) also share boundaries. This district is the home of Kellogg's "Tony the Tiger" - the cereal giant is a major employer in Battle Creek, the largest city in the district (53,364). Jackson is the second city with 36,316 people. Much of the district consists of small towns and farming communities.

The incumbent is a Republican freshman, Tim Walberg. He is known for his conservative views. In 2006 he raised twenty times more than his Democratic opponent, but won by only 4 percentage points. His website is http://www.walbergforcongress.com/Home.aspx. He is being challenged by Mark Schauer, minority leader of the Michigan state Senate. He is a graduate of Albion College (In my teaching for Educational Programmes Abroad, I met a number of Albion students who came to London to study and intern in Parliament and elsewhere). His website is http://www.markschauer.com/

MI 09

The Ninth District is on the north western outskirts of Detroit. Congressional Quarterly describes it as "heavily suburban". It is the wealthiest and most-educated district in the state. The major industries are Auto manufacturing, engineering, health care and insurance. Farmington Hills (82,111); Troy (80,959); Rochester Hills (68,825) and Pontiac (66,337) are the largest cities in the district.

The incumbent Republican Joe Knollenberg has been in Congress since 1993, and is one month short of his 75th birthday. Ecomonic hardships, particularly pronounced in the state of Michigan, may cost him his seat. In 2006 he survived by only five percentage points. He is socially conservative - but has voted twice against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.He has served as an appropriator within Congress. His campaign website is http://www.knollenberg.house.gov/

Gary Peters is the Democratic challenger. A veteran and former state Senator, Mr Peter's has also been a Vice President at both Merrill Lynch and UBS/PaineWebber. His website can be found at http://www.petersforcongress.com/index.asp