Tuesday, February 05, 2008

GOP Primary Challengers?

There's a lot that I want to write about, but I'm having a hard time finding the energy and free time to blog about the 7th District. (Those of you that know me can probably guess why.) But I couldn't pass up this.

I don't like to re-post entire articles-- especially from the subscription-only MIRS-- but hopefully they'll forgive me. A friend sent me this:
A Primary For Walberg?
When now-U.S. Rep. Tim WALBERG (R-Tipton) launched his insurgent campaign to oust Joe SCHWARZ in the 2006 primary, he said he was the true Republican in the race. Now top party officials are privately saying Walberg's real accomplishment may be losing the 7th Congressional District seat, once a GOP stronghold.

Sources close to National Republican Committeeman Chuck YOB and Committeewoman Holly HUGHES tell MIRS the pair are losing hope in Walberg, who raised almost $200,000 less than his chief Democratic challenger, Sen. Mark SCHAUER (D-Battle Creek), last quarter (See related story).

When reached today, Hughes insisted Walberg is "doing a good job."

"He's doing more fundraising than before," Hughes said. "He's making an improvement and I think you'll see over the next few months he'll be light years above where he was."

So far, the free-market Club for Growth (CFG) lobby, which helped raise more than $1 million for Walberg last cycle, hasn't opened its wallet for Walberg, but did endorse the freshman Congressman Jan. 25. Though he faced a poorly funded challenger, Walberg narrowly won the 2006 general election with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Some party officials have buyer's remorse for allowing a primary in 2006, figuring the seat would always stay red. Many conservatives in the leadership privately preferred Walberg, who shared their views against abortion, gay marriage and taxes.

Now they're saying the GOP would have been better off sticking with Schwarz, who won the 2004 general with 58 percent, thanks to his appeal with independents and Democrats.

"I would not disagree with that at all," said former Sen. Philip HOFFMAN, a Republican who represented part of the 7th District for years and supports Walberg. "If Joe won in 2006, it would be a safe seat today and Mark Schauer would be concentrating on being a good Senate Minority Leader."

That's led some Republican Party activists to quietly go hunting for a candidate to knock Walberg off in a primary. Brad SMITH, an Addison attorney who finished second in the 2004 GOP primary (Walberg came in third) won the CFG's blessing and cash in that race.

The son of former U.S. Rep Nick SMITH, who held the seat until 2004, said several people have approached him about running this year. The younger Smith said he was "flattered," but wasn't planning to be a candidate.

"How is it that more experienced politicians say it? I have no intention of running," Smith said.

Smith said he's "heard Democrats have put up a formidable candidate" against Walberg but still thinks Republicans can have a good year.

"I sense the base is starting to wake up more," he said. "The presidential election will rouse us from our sleep."

But Smith acknowledges there are some Republicans who may stay home if the more moderate U.S. Sen. John McCAIN (R-Ariz.) is the nominee, which "could be the margin in congressional races." He's also concerned that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) might not have enough cash to help its members.

Former Rep. Clark BISBEE said no one's knocked on his door, but he'd answer.

"I would love to be in Washington right now," Bisbee told MIRS. "I'll put it that way."

Bisbee said Walberg's "voting record could be better."

"He's kind of split the party here (in Jackson)," Bisbee said. "I don't know that he's endeared himself to everyone."

He does have concerns Walberg's seat won't hold this fall.

"My contention three years ago was that if I didn't win or Joe didn't win, there could be a big fight," Bisbee said. "And we could lose that fight."

Other names being floated are the two other also-rans in the '04 primary, former Reps. Gene DeROSSETT and Paul DeWEESE.

There's also Rick BAXTER, a former state rep who stepped down last year as Walberg's district director. But Baxter said today he's not given a run any thought and questioned how successful a primary could be against Walberg, who is strong with the conservative core of this southern Michigan district.

Schwarz has mulled another go-around, and has been approached to run as a Republican, independent and Democrat, but said he's focused on putting McCain in the White House.

Still, Hoffman doubts a primary will happen and thinks "at the end of the day, it's still a safe Republican seat."

"Republican powerbrokers can't go to the right of Tim and still be Republican," Hoffman said. "And Tim's shown that if you go to the left of him, he can beat you."

He also notes Yob and Hughes "don't live in the district."

Another Republican Party official also questioned if another Republican could put the organization together to knock off the sitting Congressman, whose voting record is not inconsistent with the beliefs of many of the Republican voters in this still predominately Republican district.

Evidently, Walberg has been burning up the phone lines to Yob and Hughes for months, telling them he can't raise any money.

That's borne out in Federal Elections Committee reports, which show Schauer raised $338,258 during the last quarter to Walberg's $151,741. Even though Schauer jumped into the race in August, he still has $60,000-plus more in the bank than Walberg.

Still, Walberg's campaign isn't worried.

Walberg Spokesman Joe WICKS said the Congressman's focus in 2007 was on improving health care, protecting the Great Lakes and creating jobs in the 7th Congressional District and Michigan, in general.

"Congressman Walberg is doing his job trying to turn the economy around and doing the job the people of his district elected him to do, which is represent them and fight for the issues that are important to them."

As far as the CFG goes, Wicks noted the pro-economic growth organization did endorse Walberg in late January, and there isn't any immediate concern they won't be willing to contribute to the campaign, if need be.

CFG did indicate to MIRS it could still come through for Walberg this year if he's in trouble. (See "Will CFG Be There For Walberg?" 11/18/07).

"With his excellent record, we are confident Rep. Walberg will emerge victorious again," said CFG President Pat TOOMEY in the group's endorsement.

Right now, the group's No. 1 target is taking out U.S. Rep. Wayne GILCHRIST in Maryland (just as Schwarz was in 2006). It's worth noting the Club usually only helps candidates get into office and is busy with the presidential race, running a number of ads against Mike HUCKABEE. CFG had $565,830 cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

One place Walberg may not get as much help is the cash-strapped NRCC, which last week asked the FBI to investigate fraud within its own organization. It's struggling with only $2,628,254 in cash on hand, subtracting its debt. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has about 15 times as much cash, with $33,735,554, minus its debt. And Republicans have 28 open seats to defend, thanks to retirements.
There's a lot to digest there, but first, here's a quick "I told you so" moment for me. I didn't mention it here, but in a comment on the blog Swing State Project, I wrote this about Mark Schauer's fundraising total:
That's pretty impressive, and probably more than Walberg raised. It'll solidify Schauer as the presumptive Democratic nominee, and if Walberg's weak this quarter, I think it might be enough to encourage a Republican primary challenge. That's just a gut feeling on my part.
Well, it was more than Walberg raised (a lot more), and now the primary challenge speculation is beginning.

So, what do you all think? Will we see a "Draft Clark Bisbee" campaign spring up?

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Another good article that brings some perspective to the GOP funding woes (Walberg is mentioned):

The tar and feathering begins:


I'd be willing to bet this is a creation of some geek at CFG.
Here's a snippet from Gongwer:

Heading into the election year, U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Bloomfield Hills) topped fundraising efforts so far, followed closely by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn). That left Mr. Knollenberg, of those targeted by challengers, also with the largest lead on a challenger, while U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), still among the top fundraisers, was behind his challenger.

Mr. Walberg, who himself unseated the incumbent in the 2006 primary election, appears to have the biggest challenge in November, with Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) having raised $560,526 so far this election and having $500,720 of that still on hand. Mr. Walberg has so far raised only $556,756 for the cycle and has $438,005 on hand.

But the reports were due only days after Club For Growth, the conservative contribution aggregator, announced that it was again backing Mr. Walberg (See Gongwer Michigan Report, January 25, 2008). The group provided the lion's share of Mr. Walberg's backing for the 2006 election in addition to some independent expenditures on his behalf in the district.

It is too early to know if Mr. Schauer can maintain the fundraising, but he has already raised about five times what Sharon Renier, the Democratic candidate for the prior two elections, raised for those two races combined.
why do all of you political folk continually focus on money -- as if that's the only measuring stick.

you people who are drinking the Schauer kool-aid and you closet Walberg supporters conveniently forget that it us in the middle majority that will tip the balance in this so-called Republican district.

so dance up and down all you want about what these numbers supposedly mean...but until you start speaking to the issues we want to hear, your presumed success is as secure as the Patriots perfection.

-- William Flynn

PS And if you truly support someone, stop hiding behind anonymous posts.
While I'm sure CFG can't wait to sink their teeth into Schauer's extreme left wing record thetruthaboutmark.com appears to be a creation of the Republican Party 7th district committee. Walberg doesn't need nearly as much money as Schauer will to mount a successful campaign. It will be easy for him to expose Schauer as being so out of touch with the conservative voters of the 7th district on taxes, immigration, partial birth abortion, etc., etc.
That website is registered to Wyckham Seelig.
That website attacking Mark Schauer also goes on a rant to attack Senate republicans. So, by their logic, Schauer has been at least successful in derailing the GOP agenda. As leader of the minority, that is the best he can do, right?

"Is it just me, or are other people amazed at how little progress has been made on cutting the state's expenditures so that we can live within our means? Senator Bishop sent around an e-mail talking about the Senate's "Budget Accomplishments", but most of the bullet points seem to be "Proposed", and very few of them seem to be implemented."
That website is run by something called the "Seventh District Congressional Committee."

I checked and agree it is owned by someone named "Wyckham Seelig" and has been active for a few months. (I doubt it has had as much traffic as this one.)

I looked on the federal site and the state site and cannot find a committee with that name, so it must be a Club for Growth front group. The site claims it is "regulated funds" but there is no report on the election websites.

Mark Schauer, if he is worth what all the fans say, should be all over this yesterday.
Here is the info off GoDaddy. The guy lives in Ann Arbor. If he is going to put up a website about our congressional candidate, at least we can let him know what we think about his site. I suggest everyone mails him a letter:

Wyckham Seelig
3025 Boardwalk
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Created on: 23-Oct-07
Expires on: 23-Oct-08
Last Updated on: 23-Oct-07

Administrative Contact:
Seelig, Wyckham wdseelig@ncms.org
3025 Boardwalk
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
United States
(734) 996-9467

Technical Contact:
Seelig, Wyckham wdseelig@ncms.org
3025 Boardwalk
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
United States
(734) 996-9467

The address listed is the Washtenaw County GOP and the phone is too. It looks like Walberg has friends in Ann Arbor. I didn't think they had republicans in that town.
More info on Seelig:

He is a retired VP from Lucent, according to:


Oh, his website registration lists him with an email address at ncms.org. NCMS is the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in Ann Arbor. It is a very interesting organization. I don't think their odd link to Tim Walberg should reflect poorly on that organization, but maybe we can call them up and let them know Mr. Seelig is using their email address to set up political websites.
According to Washtenaw County republican election reports on the state website, the county organization paid rent to "Nat'l Ctr Manufact. Sciences" in the amount of $1080 on Jan 2 of 2007.

The anti-Schauer website lists an address which is the same for NCMS and the Washtenaw County republicans.
I just looked up NCMS on opensecrets.org. Employees have given about 17 grand over the last few elections. A huge majority is to Knollenberg, but some to Jerry Lewis (republican under investigation for earmark trickery.) Also one to Mike Rogers.

Also, according to Opensecrets.org, Wyckham Seelig gave $1000 to Jerry Lewis. Corruption, anyone?
You people are a bunch of paranoid conspirisy theorists. Wyckham Seelig is the Republican 7th district committee chairman. There is nothing illegal about this site. At the bottom it says paid for by regulated committee funds.

You should all be proud that thetruthaboutmark.com is highlighting the liberal left wing agenda and positions of your annointed candidate... raising taxes, drivers licenses for illegals and partial birth abortion.
Paraoid? The website says it is paid for by regulated funds, but there is not a record of the committee name in either federal or state election reports.

There is a 7th district republican committee, but there isn't any report of paying for a website. And, to top it all off, the guy running the website is insulting Mark Schauer, but he has given money to Jerry Lewis, who is the king of earmarks and is being investigated for some shady practices.

Your simple explanation that there is a statement at the bottom is crap. We all know politicans and campaigns lie. They lie alot. Just look at Tim Walberg and his supporters.
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