Thursday, December 07, 2006


I had finished this post, and was about ready to hit "Publish," when I thought to myself that I should re-check one of the things I said about the August primary. I go on to the MI SOS site, and the computer freezes, and I lose everything I wrote... Such is life. So, this is take two.

Prior to starting Walberg Watch, I was involved in the movement to support Senator Russ Feingold's potential presidential bid. That all ended when Feingold announced he would not run, but I learned quite a bit and grew quite a bit as a blogger.

At the start, the movement was a loose collection of blogs with no clear message or plan. However, things began coming into focus when the very first pro-Feingold blogger-- a guy in Missouri named Dan-- wrote a piece titled "Forward With Feingold." He eloquently set the tone of our message by drawing from Wisconsin's state motto, and further helped us focus our attention on 2008. You can't win anything by refighting old battles. You've got to look forward to the next opportunity to convince voters that your candidate is the right guy for the job. Always move forward.

And so, I now look forward to 2008 here in Michigan's 7th District.

Below is a list of potential Democratic candidates to run against Tim Walberg. Some might say that it's too early to start this speculation, and those who say that would be right. Consider this a "rough draft" for the 2008 field, looking only at the names that are prominent now. A lot will change. This is just playful speculation. I'm certain that plenty of the names I list below aren't interested.

So, here are the possibilities that currently come to mind:

Previous Candidates

Sharon Renier - If she runs again in 2008, it'll be her third attempt at the office (and run total for elective office). Will she run? On Election Night, that's what it looked like she'd do, but a lot can change in two years. In my previous post on the 2006 results, one comment caught my attention:
Renier was in her 3rd run for office, raised no money and changed her position on a reproductive choice. She failed to reach out to any of the active democrats in the district and it apprears she is not a dues paying member of the democratic party. Her drop off from Granholm was consistently 1,400 - 3,000 votes, less than half of which went to Walberg. You don't show the drop-off in Washtenaw, who's western end is trending democratic. You might like her but she is not credible as a congressional candidate.
It may be true that I was a little too friendly to Renier in my look back, so I'll say this: Renier ran behind a gubernatorial candidate that was under constant attack, had atrocious fundraising, was up against a divisive far-right Republican yet still lost, and, at times, her rhetoric was as divisive as Tim Walberg's.

That said, it's not fair to say she wasn't credible. She out-performed any recent Democratic candidate for the office with a campaign which was run with a few thousand dollars and a lot of hard work. With a strong campaign apparatus, she could easily win. Is she the best choice? We'll have to see what happens.

Fred Strack - Veteran of the US Navy and Ford employee, Strack finished second in the 2006 Democratic primary. He's got a good resumé and had a good message, but (like all the Democratic candidates) was drowned out by the tough GOP primary. There's no clear indication that he'd run again, but he's certainly a possibility.

Daryl Campbell - Army veteran and Washtenaw County police officer, Campbell finished third. His campaign never really seemed to get off the ground, but some suggested he might be a "rising star" of the district.

Chuck Ream - If the far-right loves Tim Walberg, they'd hate Chuck Ream, the fourth place finisher in the 2006 primary. Scio Township trustee and supporter of legalization of marijuana, electability becomes a factor. He'd certainly provide contrast with Tim Walberg on the issues, though.

Drew Walker - Walker finished second in the 2004 primary, and did not run in 2006. However, here's his quote in a recent Jackson Citizen-Patriot article:
"The Republicans couldn't possibly have a worse candidate than Tim Walberg," said Drew Walker, D-Battle Creek, who was defeated in the 2004 7th District primary. "He's on the fringe, supporting practically every radical social issue. The tide is turning for our party."
The rumor at the time was that he was the choice of the Spade brothers in Lenawee County, which is some strong support. It was never really clear if that rumor was true, though. Is he interested in running again? I don't know. It's always a possibility.

Elected Officials

For the purposes of this list, I'm only including state representatives and state senators, and only those that have served at least one term already. There's always the possibility that a freshman like Martin Griffin might make a run, but I'd expect him and Mike Simpson to focus on re-election. There may also be more local figures-- mayors, county commissioners, etc.-- that could emerge, but I can't think of anyone now. If you can, mention 'em in the comments.

Mark Schauer - Mark Schauer was the name the Schwarz campaign used to try to scare Republican primary voters with. "Vote for Schwarz," they would say, "because Mark Schauer could beat Walberg in 2008!" State Senator Schauer represents Battle Creek and its surrounding area, the same seat (more or less) that Joe Schwarz occupied. He's certainly a rising star in the party, and is the incoming Senate minority leader (a couple more seats, and he could have been majority leader). He's term-limited out in 2010, so what are his options? Sen. Carl Levin is running for re-election in 2008, so he can't take that seat. Will he run for governor in 2010? Or how about Congress in 2008?

Or will he retire from public life? It's impossible to predict. Still, Schauer's one to watch.

UPDATE: From the comments:
Point of order. The Schwarz campaign did not use Schauer as a scare tactic, the GOP did. Fact is, Schauer and Schwarz work together very well. He was the Rep. and Schwarz was the Senator in Calhoun County when Schwarz was in the MI Legislature. They both respect each other and work hard together for Calhoun County and Battle Creek. They have political differences, but Schwarz would never "threaten" the voters by using Schauer's name. That's just not his style.
Maybe "scare Republican primary voters" wasn't the best way to put it... That said, John Truscott, at the time working with the Schwarz campaign, did use Schauer's name, and Schauer said he felt like a "political bogeyman".

Doug Spade - Incredibly popular former state representative from Lenawee County, he was the first legally blind member of the Michigan House, and would be the first such member of Congress. The rumor was that he was heavily courted in 2004, but backed out to help his brother, Dudley, win his seat after being term-limited out of office. Still, he's popular and might decide to return to public life.

If he doesn't run for Congress, watch him when current State Senator Cameron Brown is term-limited out in a few years. In an open seat, Doug could win where Dudley failed in 2002.

Dudley Spade - The other half of Lenawee County's dynamic duo, State Representative Dudley Spade now holds the seat his brother left, winning in 2004 (after a failed 2002 state Senate bid), and re-elected in 2006 by a 2 to 1 margin. He won't be term-limited out in 2008, but he might see it as a great opportunity for any ambitions he might have.

Both Spades tend to be moderates, and could easily carry Lenawee County against Tim Walberg.

Pam Byrnes - State Representative Byrnes is in the same position as Dudley Spade-- she won't be term-limited out, but could seize the opportunity to fulfill greater ambitions. She represents western Washtenaw County, an area which has been trending slightly more Democratic lately.

Fantasy Candidates

Joe Schwarz - A former member of Congress, veteran, distinguished mayor of Battle Creek and state senator, and one-time gubernatorial candidate, Schwarz has the perfect resumé. Too bad he's a Republican.

Seriously, though, Matt at Michigan Liberal suggested that Schwarz running as a Democrat wasn't outside the realm of possibility in 2004. Now, I really doubt that he'll make such a switch in 2008, but it'd make for a great race.

If Schwarz does run, it would probably be as a primary challenge to Tim Walberg, making it the third such match-up in a row, or as an independent. I know that a lot of readers of this blog were more loyal to Schwarz than to the Democratic Party, and I understand that. If he runs, though, it'll make 2008 the race to watch.

Regardless of who runs, I make this promise: this blog will not endorse any candidate prior to the primary, and is committed to supporting the Democratic nominee that challenges Congressman-elect Walberg. While I may have personal preferences in the primary, I'll try to stay impartial on this site (when the time comes, check Michigan Liberal, Capital Viewpoint, etc., for my opinions).

So, an open question for the comments: who's your pick? If you could run anyone in the 7th District against Walberg, who would it be, and why?


Point of order. The Schwarz campaign did not use Schauer as a scare tactic, the GOP did. Fact is, Schauer and Schwarz work together very well. He was the Rep. and Schwarz was the Senator in Calhoun County when Schwarz was in the MI Legislature. They both respect each other and work hard together for Calhoun County and Battle Creek. They have political differences, but Schwarz would never "threaten" the voters by using Schauer's name. That's just not his style.
I did the idea of either of the Spades running. I think they would have a real chance of winning.
Sorry, did should be dig in my last comment
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