Back in October, I wrote about the race between Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) and fundamentalist and über-conservative Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) for Michigan's 7th District House seat. Walberg, who was ahead for most of the campaign, went on to lose a tight race to Schauer who I am proud to say is now my representative.
Two days ago, Walberg, a former Baptist minister division manager for the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, announced that he's going to run again in 2010, creating a potential rematch between two men on nearly opposite ends of the political spectrum (assuming Walberg gets through the primary race.)
This should be interesting...
As I wrote in a Huffington Post piece during the campaign, Schauer benefited from a variety of events in the fall of 2008. First, John McCain unceremoniously pulled the plug on Michigan, leaving the incumbent Walberg to fight his battle alone. The departure of the McCain campaign elicited some pretty strong reactions from the conservative Republicans in Michigan. For example, Jack Waldvogel, Chairman of the Emmet County GOP, had this to say:
"If you are going to end visits to the state by McCain/ Palin, do it. Just don't formally announce that you are 'pulling out' of Michigan, and then come back two days later asking the base core of support to 'keep working.' What a slap in the face to all the thousands of people who have been energized by the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket. I've been involved in County Party politics and organization for 40 years, and this is the biggest dumbass stunt I have ever seen...
He has given up on our State? What a total and complete crock of crap. Again, I think McCain owes the Republicans and the People of Michigan a HUGE APOLOGY. SOON!"
(Pardon me while I smirk yet again...)
Walberg also watched as the moderate Republican, Joe Schwarz, defected and endorsed Schauer. Schwarz' decision was made primarily due to the involvement of the uber-conservative Club for Growth (you might enjoy the "Comrade of the Month" feature on their website.) They spent $1 million helping Walberg defeat Schwarz in the primary and got very involved in the general election as well, producing robo-calls and sending out odious mailings accusing Schauer of everything but killing small babies and eating their still-beating hearts on the steps of Michigan's capitol building. Their involvement in the Walberg's general election campaign was enough for Schwarz to endorse a Democrat.
The Obama campaign's surge in Michigan late in the campaign also helped Schauer and, frankly, he needed a bit of help. Michigan's 7th District is quite gerrymandered. It includes very conservative areas like Albion, Jackson and Battle Creek, and contains a large number of rural farm communities, notoriously non-Democratic in their voting trends. Conveniently for the Republicans, it skirts liberal Ann Arbor, wrapping around it to include the conservative rural areas but avoiding more Democratic areas (thanks to Tom Delay, of course.)
Walberg is (in)famous for being the only member of the House Education Labor and Committee to vote against a Headstart reauthorization bill because it wouldn't allow religious groups to refuse to hire Muslims or "a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor" (yes, he really said that.) He believes that without the Obama coattails to help him in 2010, Schauer is vulnerable. Certainly he'll enjoy the backing again of the Club For Growth. In an email from the Schauer campaign, Schauer wrote:
The free trade group Club for Growth, which Tim Walberg admitted he was "bought and paid for by" in 2006, was quick to chime in yesterday:
"Tim Walberg was a terrific member of Congress, and we think very highly of him," David Keating, executive director of the Conservative Club for Growth, wrote in an e-mail.
The Schauer campaign had this humorous reply:
Schauer for Congress spokeswoman Lisa Williams released the following statement: "We would like to welcome Rush Limbaugh -- er... Tim Walberg -- back to the scene, nine months after Michigan voters overwhelming rejected the failed Bush economic policies he defended in Congress."
Heh, heh. Go, Lisa!
Anyway, it should prove to be yet another interesting campaign. Walberg's nastiness in 2008 is likely to be back in 2010 and no doubt the DNCC will respond in kind as they did in 2008. Endless robo-calls, anyone? I think it's time to finally get rid of my landline...
Please consider helping out Mark Schauer by contributing to his campaign at Act Blue. It is essential that we don't allow Tim Walberg anywhere near the House of Representatives ever again.
I'm just sayin'...
Race Tracker Wiki: MI-07