Michigan's 7th Congressional District would represent a high-profile upset for Republicans, given that the district includes Jackson, the birthplace of the Republican Party, and it had been in Republican hands from 2993 to 2009. Freshman Congressman Mark Schauer, a Democrat, narrowly defeated the GOP's Tim Walberg in 2008 and is facing a rematch this mid-term election. It's an anti-incumbency election in a slightly Republican-leaning district, so Walberg is presenting a strong challenge for Schauer. The race, as it stands, is a toss-up.
Candidates for Michigan's 7th Congressional District (two-year term)
(Encompasses all of Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties, large portions of Calhoun and Washtenaw counties and the cities of Battle Creek, Charlotte, Jackson and a portion of Lansing. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Mark Schauer
Political experience: Schauer is the former senate minority leader for the Michigan senate, having served Michigan's 19th district (Calhoun and most of Jackson County) from 2003 to 2009. He had previously represented Michigan's 62nd District in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000. He is the Vice Chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and serves on the House Agriculture Committee.
Professional experience: According to his website, Schauer runs a small retail shop. He has been the executive director of the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan and coordinator for the Calhoun County Human Services Coordinating Council. He served on the Battle Creek City Commission from 1994 to 1996.
Key issues: Schauer has listed jobs creation and trade as two key planks in his platform. He supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and supports repealing NAFTA, putting him in line with Michigan's manufacturing-based workforce. He's for more transportation funding for Michigan, strongly supports troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and wants to see more credit extended to small businesses, including loans made available by taxing bailed-out Wall Street firms.
Endorsements: As of mid August, Schauer has no endorsements listed on his website.
Chances of maintaining his seat: He's beaten Walberg before, 49 percent to 46 percent, and he's in a district that slightly favors Republicans, so he's proven he can win. He's already an incumbent, and despite the anti-incumbency mood, incumbent re-election rates since 1964 have varied between 85 percent and 98 percent, according to OpenSecret.org. But Walberg is a recent former congressman for the district and has the name recognition needed to perform favorably in this race. He ran uncontested in the Michigan primary.
Candidate: Tim Walberg
Political experience: Walberg served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1998. He lost in the 2004 Republican primary for Congressional District 7, but won election in 2006, serving from 2007 to 2009. The New York Times reports he bested Brian Rooney and Marvin Carlson in the Michigan Republican Primary, 57 percent to 32 percent (Rooney) and 10 percent (Carlson).
Professional experience: A former union steel-mill worker, Walberg left to train to be a minister. He served as a pastor and a division manager for the Chicago-based Moody Bible Institute.
Key issues: Fiscal and social conservatism are at the heart of the Walberg campaign. Walberg wants to stop tax increases and provide tax relief "across-the-board" for families and small businesses. He is strongly opposed to government spending, in particular pork-barrel spending. He has argued that conservation, wind and solar power, "environmentally sound energy exploration" and nuclear power will help increase U.S. energy independence.
He is against same-sex marriage and abortion and believes English should be the official language of the United States. He supports Second Amendment rights.
Endorsements: Walberg's notable endorsements include representatives Dave Camp and Candice Miller and former U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham. The full endorsement list can be seen on his website.
Chances of unseating Mark Schauer: The Cook PVI puts this district at R+2, so the odds only slightly favor Walberg; the race, according to Key House Races and aggregate polling cited in The Hill, can be called a toss-up. Schauer can't ride the coattails of a popular Barack Obama presidential candidacy in Michigan to help out. Even if he did, Obama's approval numbers currently are low, according to the Rasmussen Report Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, which indicates 45 percent of voters approving the president with 53 percent disapproving. However, neither candidate is considered strongly in step with the district; Schauer is viewed as strongly liberal, while Walberg is seen as far more conservative than previous Republican congressmen from the district.
Key Differences between Tim Walberg and Mark Schauer
Jobs: Schauer was a supporter of the stimulus bill, while Walberg has voiced opposition. Walberg, according to his website, strongly favors tax reduction and reduced government spending, making those two concerns a centerpiece of his campaign. He notes he received the "Taxpayers Hero" award from Citizens Against Government Waste in 2008. Schauer has presented himself in the On the Issues section of his campaign site as fiscally responsible as well, arguing that he was against additional spending on the Wall Street bailout and that the Club for Growth had said he had "cut more pork barrel spending from the federal budget than any other Michigan Democrat."
Health care: Schauer supported the health care legislation that passed this year. Walberg opposed that bill, stating that it would reduce choice and exchange a high insurance bill for a bigger tax bill. He has signed a pledge to repeal the bill if elected. Schauer counters by arguing the Congressional Budget Office predicts the health care reform bill will cut the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion over two decades.
Education: Walberg's site suggests he wishes to see educational excellence and worker training. Schauer suggests that his support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a recent state aid bill helped save teaching jobs in Michigan.
Other issues: Walberg has devoted time to highlighting his stance on same-sex marriage and abortion -- he's pro-traditional values. Schauer doesn't address these issues on his site, focusing instead on transportation, national security, Wall Street and small-business lending programs. Walberg doesn't devote time on his site to these issues.
Michigan's 7th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Michigan 7th District borders both Indiana and Ohio and is roughly south-center along the southern border of the Lower Peninsula. It includes all of Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties and most of Calhoun and Washtenaw counties. Battle Creek, Charlotte, Jackson and a portion of Lansing are within the district, which is just southwest of Detroit and east of Kalamazoo.
2008 results: Schauer beat the incumbent Walberg in the 2008 general election, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Demographics: According to the New York Times, 87.5 percent of the district is white, 5.7 percent black, 3.6 percent Hispanic and 1.2 percent Asian.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Michigan 7th District a rating of R+2, awarding a slight edge to Republican voters in this district.
- GOP s Tim Walberg
- Michigan senate
- former senate minority leader
- Lenawee counties