On a day when Nate Silver predicts G.O.P. has 2-in-3 chance of taking House, Democrats would probably have good reason to be worried.
One seat in particular, Bart Stupak's in MI-01, looks very vulnerable. Nate rates it as the the fifth most likely seat to turn over at 91% chance of it going over to the Republicans this November.
Don't despair. Right now, the money is (slightly) in Democratic candidate Gary McDowell's favor and other experts, such as CQ Politics and our own Superribbie, both give Democrats reason for hope, as they rate this race as a tossup.
Also, as Brady on Michigan Liberal notes, we might just get some unexpected help. Details after the jump.
According the the Open Secrets widget on Open Congress's page on the district, Democratic candidate Gary McDowell currently has the most cash on hand, too, albeit by a nose--$131,576 for McDowell vs. $131,419 for Republican Dan Benishek. Right now, the Democrat is ahead in the "money primary." Let's keep it that way.
Oh, and about that unexpected help. Here's what Brady on Michigan Liberal has to say about it.
The most entertaining and memorable Michigan political ad this year comes from neither a Democrat or a Republican but from independent candidate Glenn Wilson running in the 1st Congressional District. The ad, recently posted to YouTube, will be running on TV across northern Michigan soon.
Brady then continues with a description of Wilson.
Glenn Wilson is an exceptional success story. He is the founder of M-33 access, a company which brought low cost, high speed internet to a large stretch of Northeast Michigan. Wilson plans on capitalizing on this sucess to provide $2 million to fund his campaign. Wilson is running on a reform message, similar in some ways to the platform of some of the more rational Tea Party groups. This summer, I was behind Wilson in several local parades. He received a very enthusiastic response from the crowds, more than I've ever seen for a local candidate. While any independent candidate has a very steep road to climb, I anticipate Wilson will perform well beyond expectations at the polls, particularly in Lower Peninsula where the majority of the 1st District electorate is located. Both Gary McDowell and the Republican candidate are from the Upper. Given the dynamics of the race this year, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Glenn Wilson has the Don RINOs in the Republican establishment running scared. He may very well be the guy who prevents them from taking control of Congress.
Again, according to the Open Secrets widget on the Open Congress page about this race, Wilson is the third biggest fundraiser and second biggest spender of all candidates remaining ing the race. He's spent almost $10,000 more than McDowell ($25,015 to $15,259). As you can see, the commercial shows where Wilson spent his money..
Finally, Wilson isn't the only independent or minor party candidate running for Stupak's seat. Here is the entire field.
Gary McDowell (Democratic)
Dan Benishek (Republican)
Ellis Boal (Green)
Glenn Wilson (Independent/Non-partisan)
Keith Shelton (Libertarian)
Patrick Lambert (U.S Taxpayers)
Wow, that's a crowded field! It's most crowded on the Right, with four people who can legitimately claim to be conservatives running and splitting the vote. That leaves McDowell in the center with only one candidate to his Left. That looks encouraging for McDowell
In case you're wondering, there are enough people on the Right in MI-01 that will vote for a third party. This is what the race looked like in 2008.
Bart Stupak (D) 213,216 65%
Tom Casperson (R) 107,340 32.7%
Jean Treacy (GREEN) 2,669 0.8%
Daniel Grow (LIBERT) 2,533 0.8%
Joshua Warren (USTAX) 2,070 0.6%
The Greens and the Libertarians cancelled each other out and the U.S. Taxpayers Party helped split the remainder of the conservative vote. Now imagine yet a fourth conservative with money in the race.
Suddenly, I'm not so discouraged about losing Bart Stupak's seat to the Republicans. We can still win this one!
UPDATE: Here's an excerpt from a Michigan Messenger article about this race in general and Wilson's effect in particular.
Michigan Messenger: Ad wars begin in race to replace Stupak
Benishek poll shows independent candidate as important factor
By Eartha Jane Melzer 9/10/10 9:49 AM
In Michigan’s First Congressional District the campaign of Republican Dan Benishek is touting the results of a poll it commissioned which shows Benishek with a strong lead over Democratic rival Gary McDowell.
According to the poll, in a two way race Benishek, a surgeon from Iron Mountain, would beat State Rep. McDowell of Rudyard 54-31. In a race that also included Independent Glenn Wilson and "The Tea Party" candidate Lonnie Lee Snyder it would be much closer with Benishek receiving 39 percent of the vote and McDowell 25 percent. Snyder and the other "The Tea Party" candidates were excluded from the ballot by the State Supreme Court last week.
The poll was conducted by TargetPoint Consulting, involved 406 telephone surveys between August 31 and Sept. 2 and claims to have a margin of error of 5.7 percent.
"These are the kinds of numbers being seen all over the country right now," said Bill Ballenger, a former Republican state Senator and editor of Inside Michigan Politics. " However, this poll may underestimate the "Wilson factor" — that being the independent candidacy of Glenn Wilson, the millionaire who has just begun advertising. He’ll undoubtedly hurt Benishek a lot more than McDowell if he gets traction."
Wilson could really help McDowell--that is, if he doesn't win. Contribute and GOTV!