Thursday, February 21, 2008

Congressman Tim in Saline on Friday!

Congressman Tim will be holding a coffee hour at My Favorite Cafe, 101 S. Ann Arbor St, Saline, on Friday between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. Not likely we will see Vice President Cheney, but it should be an interesting hour...
My Favorite Cafe is in the center of Saline, 1 block south of Michigan Ave. (US-12), on the east side of the street.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Dick and me was just like peas and carrots again. He showed me around and even introduced me to some of his new friends."

With apologies to Forrest Gump, and kudos to "Blogging for Michigan" for the first post on this;
From the Battle Creek Enquirer

Press officials for Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed Tuesday he is scheduled to make a stop at the Marshall home of Fred and Arlene Homann on March 7 during a private, invitation-only fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.
Details about Cheney's visit were scant among local Republicans.
Fred Homann said he was asked by a friend to host the party.
"I'm just supplying the facility, if you will," he said. "I'm not sending out any of the invitations or anything like that."
Homann said he is a Republican supporter and, while he has held fundraisers for GOP candidates at his home before, he's never hosted a big-name guest before.
"I am very excited to have the vice president come to Calhoun County," Walberg said about Cheney's visit.
Scott Durham, chairman of the Calhoun County Republican Party, said Cheney's visit will help highlight local issues and frame them in a national discussion.
"It's fantastic any time any of these national figures swings through Calhoun County," he said.
Megan Mitchell, Cheney's press secretary, said the vice president is scheduled to be in Illinois earlier in the day, prior to his stop in Marshall.
Cheney has been campaigning this year to support Republican senators and members of Congress, Mitchell said.
"I've been with him at several events, and I think he's been very well received," Mitchell said. "The vice president intends to work hard throughout 2008 to return the House and Senate to a Republican majority."
Durham said Walberg's race against either state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township, or Sharon Renier, D-Munith, will be tough.
"I think what I've heard from people in Washington and people in our communities is that Tim's doing all the right things in both places," he said. "The vice president isn't going to come out for just anybody."
President George W. Bush, Cheney's boss, endorsed Walberg's rival, former Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, in 2006.
Ed Sarpolus, vice president of the Lansing-based polling firm EPIC/MRA, said Cheney is stumping for Walberg as part of a concerted Republican effort to protect two Republican congressman: Walberg in the 7th District and Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Township, in Michigan's 9th Congressional District.
"It sounds like they're beginning to realize that Tim's going to need some money," he said. "This is one of the seats they are watching. They can't afford to lose too many seats."
Sarpolus said Cheney "likes to hang around people who are like him," and in the Republican-heavy 7th District, Cheney's visit to Walberg's fundraiser could be a much-needed boost for the congressman's campaign.
"The point is that everybody knows what they think of Dick," he said. "No matter what they think of the vice president, they're willing to pay to see him."
Earlier this month, Schauer surpassed Walberg in fundraising. Schauer reported collecting more than $350,000 during the last three months of 2007 and ended the quarter with more than $500,000 in his account.
During the same period, Walberg reported raising about $151,000 and ended with about $438,000 in his account.

Can't wait to hang the "Cheney likes to hang around people who are like him" on Tim for the campaign! Please, for heaven's sake, someone get pictures of the two buddies.

I also think the comment, "everybody knows what they think of Dick", is one hundred percent on target...

UPDATE By Fitzy: Eric B. at Michigan Liberal sums it up perfectly:
This is precisely the shot-in-the-arm Tim Walberg needs right now. He lags behind in fund raising, his own people are plotting to overthrow him, and now he brings in basically the only politician less popular in the United States than Castro, and the only American less popular than O.J.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Congressman Tim Gets Big Endorsement!

Knowing it is a little dated and to be expected, on January 25, the "sugar daddy" of Tim's 2006 election campaign, the "Club for Growth" decided to endorse him for reelection. Not much of a surprise, as he voted with them over 86% of the time. I'm just surprised he hasn't signed the "no tax" oath yet!
In the endorsement there was an interesting note, "Rep. Walberg also voted to reduce government spending, voting to defund outrageous pork projects (except his two earmarks this year, and the projects the CFG criticized him for last year in it's Repork card, see my earlier post) and to eliminate corporate welfare so taxpayers can keep more of their hard earned money."
Anybody know what "corporate welfare" Tim voted against? Are they talking about the Farm Bill?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Demas: Right-Wing Cannibals

Love her or hate her, Susan Demas always has interesting things to say about the 7th Congressional District. Today, she doesn't disappoint.

On a subject I've touched upon, Demas writes about the growing civil war in the Republican Party, specifically as it relates to Tim Walberg. Go read the whole article. If you're too busy or lazy for that, here's an excerpt.

It's the electability, stupid.

Conventional wisdom says ideology is king and Republicans must wheezingly lurch to the right to win in November. John McCain better pick Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity or Tom DeLay (if he's not in the slam) as veep if he wants to perk up the base.

The same debate is bobbing up in the 7th Congressional District. In the most overlooked story last week, some Michigan GOP poobahs are fishing for a candidate to knock off freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in a primary.

The preacher's problems evidently go beyond the congressional cafeteria mucking up his coffee, as he recently whined to the media. The darling of the Religious Right is a top 10 Democratic target, has burned through a lot of green and is desperately struggling to raise more.

Walberg just might be able to accomplish a feat no one thought possible: He could lose the blood-red 7th District.

Though there are several good prospects - popular former state Rep. Clark Bisbee of Jackson is rarin' to go - a primary remains unlikely.

Why? Just look at 2006, when Walberg handily defeated then-U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, an almost universally respected public servant of four decades who had won his seat with almost 60 percent of the vote.

"Republican powerbrokers can't go to the right of Tim and still be Republican," says former state Sen. Phil Hoffman, a Walberg supporter. "And Tim's shown that if you go to the left of him, he can beat you."

Hoffman knows more about the 7th District than just about anyone I know. And primaries tend to be orgies for extremists.

Really, go read the whole thing. I think it's worth it.

This is obviously a pro-Democratic, rather left-leaning blog, but I'd love to hear from any disaffected Republicans out there. Who would you like to see run? If Joe Schwarz doesn't get into the race (which, at this point, he probably won't), is there someone else you'd support? Between Walberg and Schauer or Walberg and Renier, would you pick a lesser of two evils, or would you stay home?

If you're a Republican Party leader, would you like to see Tim Walberg step aside for the good of the party? Or is it too late?

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Renier To Kick Off Campaign

She didn't make as much noise as the other candidates in 2007, but Sharon Renier is still running for Congress in 2008. From the Jackson Citizen Patriot:
Sharon Renier will officially kick off her congressional campaign at noon Monday with a flag-raising ceremony at her Munith farm, 10716 McCreery Road.

Renier, an organic farmer, is running as a Democrat for Michigan's 7th District seat in the U.S. House. She will face off against state Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, in the August primary.

The winner will run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.

Local veterans will perform a flag service at noon and an organic, farm-raised lunch featuring pork, chicken and pasta will be served.

Renier's campaign Web site,, will launch Monday as well.

The 7th District covers Jackson, Hillsdale, Branch, Eaton and Lenawee counties and parts of Calhoun and Washtenaw counties.

I can't make it, but I'd love to hear from anyone that attends the kick-off. I'm actually really curious to see what she has planned and to see how she performs. Remember, she won two Democratic primaries (2004 and 2006) where she was not considered the favorite, upsetting more "establishment" choices. Now, both of those were low-profile contests overshadowed by the GOP contests, with next to no money spent by any Democratic candidate. But it's still an achievement most people can't claim.

Having met Sharon Renier and seen her debate Tim Walberg, I can say that she has a certain appeal. At the same time, I don't know how she'll do against the campaign experience Schauer and his team have. Money, endorsements, and institutional support all point to Mark Schauer winning the primary, but Sharon Renier could mix things up.

Of course, she's only raised $1,555 and she has $52 cash-on-hand, compared to Schauer's $500,721. That's a big gap.

All of this is said with my usual caveat that I'm not endorsing anyone on this blog. I have my own preference between Renier and Schauer, but I'm doing my best to keep the coverage on Walberg Watch as balanced as possible.

Renier's website (soon to be launched) is at

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Truth About... Mark?

Several alert commenters have already been talking about this, but I've been slow getting around to writing about it. Sorry about that...

They say that imitation is the finest form of flattery, right? That's what I'm telling myself about the newest political website to focus on Michigan's 7th District, In what may be a conservative response to Walberg Watch, the website is "dedicated to clarifying Senator Mark Schauer's stands on issues of the day."

My first comment will be this: I'm up front and open about the purpose and intentions of Walberg Watch. Right up at the top, it says "Covering and Opposing Congressman Tim Walberg, the Radical Conservative of Michigan's 7th District." I in no way claim to be an impartial source of information. The tagline given by "The Truth About Mark" makes it sound like a public service, deciphering the complicated votes that he might take in the state Senate.

It's clearly a website designed to portray Schauer in a bad light-- "Does Mark believe that Seventh District voters are bigots?" is a headline-- and I'd be a lot more impressed if they didn't try to maintain the facade of "clarifying Senator Mark Schauer's stands on issues of the day."

But that's really just a petty complaint on my part. I also don't like the color scheme or the layout, but none of that really matters.

The information they have presented thus far has some basis in fact, and they do include documentation to support their claims. Everything is heavily biased, obviously, but it's at least one or two steps better than the website the Club for Growth created in 2006. And hey, they even cite Walberg Watch for one of their pages. I feel so proud.

It's also worth noting that if this is the conservative response to Walberg Watch, I think that my own creation is far superior. Is it because I'm a talented writer? Well, no, because I'm not. Is it because I'm blinded by partisanship, and dislike all things conservative? I certainly hope not. No, the reason their website is inferior to this blog is... you.

I'm proud of the fact that I don't censor or delete comments. I don't approve what you have to say, and, while I might disagree or respond to you, you're free to say whatever you want. (There have been one or two instances where someone crossed the line, but that's only for extreme circumstances and very offensive language.)

But that's not the case for Here's their editorial policy:

General Policy

This website highlights and clarifies the positions which Michigan State Senator Mark Schauer has taken on important governmental issues.

Because we wish for the site to focus on Senator Schauer, and not on those authors and contributors who supply content, we provide source documentation for all material that appears on this site. Viewers who disagree with any of the items presented here will thereby find it easier to approach the source to register their concerns.

Although visitors are free to suggest ideas for inclusion here, this site will be moderated, and content which the site's managers consider to be offensive or distracting will not be posted.

User Categories

Anonymous users, i.e., those who do not have user names and passwords, are allowed to see the public material posted on the site.

Registered users, who have applied for, and been granted, user names and passwords, are allowed to see both the publicly available information and the comments and posts which site visitors have made, either in response to the public material or to the various forums which we maintain here. Registered users are also allowed to submit comments for approval by the site's moderators.

Trusted users who have applied for, and been granted, more extensive privileges, are allowed to do everything that registered users do, and, in addition, to submit comments directly to the site, without going through one of our moderators.

(Emphasis added.)

Did you see that? You can't even look at the comments without registering, and anything you post has to be approved. More than that, it can be removed if it's too "distracting" from the purpose of the site.

I'm just saying, everyone is welcome at Walberg Watch, even if they disagree. Us left-wing liberal commie folks are tolerant and loving, not authoritarian and repressive.

Oh, and some trivia. I considered "The Truth About Tim" as a name for this blog when I started it, but eventually rejected it as too wordy. Now that I see essentially the same name in action, I feel I made the right choice.

In short, Walberg Watch is better. But I'll gladly admit that I'm a very biased observer. Moving on...

Who's running this, and who's paying for it? That's information you have to do some digging for.

At the bottom of every page is:
Paid for by the Seventh District Congressional Committee with regulated funds.
E-Mail Address:
... and that's the only contact information given. However, the only posts made so far have been by the user wdseelig, and a WhoIs search tells us that someone named Wyckham Seelig registered the domain on October 23, 2007.

Seelig is the chairman of the 7th District Republican Party. I've got to say, it's a little refreshing to see the GOP finally catching on to the power of the internet. A little competition is always good.

But that alone is significant. When the chairman of a local political committee uses his own time and funds to build an attack website, it says something about both how worried they are about the race and how little grassroots energy they have going for them. I don't want to tell you too much about who I am, but I can assure you, I'm not the chairman of the 7th District Democratic Party, nor am I employed by the DNC.

However, the plot thickens...

The e-mail address Seelig used to register the website was with, the website of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, based in Ann Arbor. Seelig had been a program manager and then vice president with NCMS, but apparently retired a few years ago. When Rich at Michigan Liberal posted about this, he got this update from NCMS:

Update 2: I received an email from a representative of NMSC. This person informs me that Mr. Seelig retained his NMSC email because, though he was retired, he still occsionaly did projects for them. But...

NCMS was not aware Mr. Seelig was using his NCMS e-mail account as a contact address for this web site.

After our internal examination we have found no other NCMS property used to support this activity.

The account has been terminated as of February 6, 2008. In no way was he using this e-mail domain in official NCMS business or proxy.

Looks like someone didn't get the memo about using company resources for political work.
Interesting... It's nice to know that NCMS isn't trying to influence politics in any dishonest ways. Just the usual ones like lobbying and the occasional $1,000 contribution.

So what does all of this mean? I'm not sure. It could mean that Walberg supporters will have an online rallying point from which they can attack Schauer. It could mean I'll actually have to do quality blogging, just to compete.

On the other hand, this whole thing seems kind of sloppy to me. My prediction? will be completely abandoned by May. But then, I could be wrong.

I will say now that in the near future, I'm going to spend some time refuting some of the attacks Seelig makes on his website, which, honestly, won't be too hard. I don't want this to become an all-Schauer all-the-time blog, because the focus is still Walberg, but Mark Schauer is a good Democrat and a strong candidate, and, frankly, I like the guy. And I would do the same thing if the Republicans were attacking Jim Berryman, David Nacht, or Sharon Renier.

UPDATE: An anonymous commenter rightly chastised me for forgetting to point something out. Honestly, I thought I mentioned it, but apparently I didn't.

The bottom of every page says:
Paid for by the Seventh District Congressional Committee with regulated funds.
That's important, as the commenter notes:
You are neglecting the fact that the site claims to be paid for by regulated funds, but there are no legitimate reports to show which funds are used.

This is pretty important. If funds are being used to attack Schauer and are coordinated with republican operatives, there are rules which say they should be disclosed. Walberg has a history of sneaky tactics and this may be another one.
There are strict disclosure rules for political spending, especially by party committees spending "regulated funds" in support of or opposition to a candidate. If this website has been registered since October, one would think that it would have shown up in disclosure reports somewhere along the way. I haven't seen anything.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Remembering Toby

This is off-topic, but I want to mention it anyway.

Before he was Congressman Tim Walberg, he was State Representative Tim Walberg, representing Lenawee County in the Michigan House for 16 years. It was a solid, reliable Republican seat, and Lenawee County is a pretty conservative place that liked Walberg's brand of politics.

But in 1996, Walberg got a surprisingly strong challenge from a local radio host named Doug Spade. When Walberg retired in 1998, Spade won the seat and held it comfortably for six years, until term-limited out of office in 2004. His brother, Dudley, now holds the seat, and was easily re-elected in 2006.

Doug Spade isn't an ordinary politician, though. He was caring and supportive and always focused on helping his constituents. Even when he voted a way you didn't like, you knew he was doing it because it was right for Lenawee County.

He also had the distinction of being the only member of the Michigan House of Representatives that was legally blind. But that physical impediment didn't stop him from representing the district well.

Always active in the community, there's a good chance that if you lived in Lenawee County, you probably met Doug Spade. And you probably also met Toby, his leader dog. Meeting Toby stands out in my memory almost as clearly as my conversation with Representative Spade. By all accounts, he was a good dog, and added a new dynamic to political business in Lansing.

Today, the AP brings us this:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State lawmakers are taking time to remember "Representative Toby."

The 12-year-old leader dog was a constant companion of former state Democratic Representative Doug Spade of Adrian.

Toby died on Sunday.

Toby started his political career when Spade won the 57th district House seat, becoming Michigan's second blind lawmaker.

Spade says Toby was a natural at his job. Spade's brother, Democrat Dudley Spade of Tipton, remembers Toby for his incredible personality.

Most lawmakers who were in Lansing during Toby's tenure have a story about him. They brought him treats on the House floor, scratched his ears on the sly and took him for walks during late-night sessions.

For more about Doug Spade and Toby, read this article originally from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

None of this is in any way related to Tim Walberg. I just wanted to take a moment to remember a public servant of a different sort.

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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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