Voters in the 7th congressional district will have two familiar choices on the ballot in November. They faced each other before. This time the result may be different.
When you are congressman running for re-election you walk in a lot of parades. Democrat Mark Schauer spent a recent September day walking in Charlotte’s Frontier Days parade. The crowd lining the parade route was polite, but several people like Liz Goble were not happy to see Mark Schauer.
"I definitely wasn’t happy when he was voted in. I will be happy to see him go," says Goble.
Schauer spends a lot of his campaign time defending his support for the Obama economic stimulus plan and the health care reform law. He also spends his time insisting his focus is on supporting workers in mid-Michigan.
"I’m here with my vehicle that I brought from the Lansing Delta Township plant…I put my money where my mouth is," says Schauer, "This is a vehicle made right here for General Motors just up the road. We’ve got the best workers and the best businesses in the world and if given the chance we can out compete anybody."
One man Mark Schauer wants to keep from getting a new job is his challenger in November’s election Republican Tim Walberg.
The morning breakfast crowd was heavier than normal at Kasy’s restaurant in Litchfield on another day back in September. Most of the people packing into the Branch County diner were there to see former Congressman Tim Walberg.
Tim Walberg has held dozens of these small meet&greets with 7th district voters since launching his bid to reclaim the seat his lost to Mark Schauer in 2008.
Walberg is promising a return to the conservative Republican policies he supported during his single term in Congress under former President George W. Bush and he promises to end the Obama administration’s policies that he says have made people afraid for their country and fear their loss of liberty.
"When I go door to door and when I hold town hall meetings like this or when I stand in front of groups…when I listen to what’s coming over my phone lines or emails...those words come up," says Walberg, "And it should not be that way in this the greatest country that God has ever allowed to grace this earth."
Mark Schauer, Tim Walberg and three third party candidates’ names are the ones on the ballot. But another man will likely have a big effect on the outcome of next month’s election.
Chris Gautz is the political reporter for the Jackson Citizen-Patriot. He says President Barack Obama is a significant factor in the 7th district.
"Every time Tim Walberg talks about something Mark Schauer’s done he adds that is part of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. He’s doing what a lot of Republicans are across the country. They’re trying to nationalize this election. They’re trying to make this a referendum on President Obama," says Gautz, "On the Democratic side, they’re trying to do the exact opposite. You’ll hear Mark Schauer talk quite about this being a clear choice between two people. And defining the records of the two of them and trying not even to talk about President Obama.”
Mark Schauer and Tim Walberg are symbolic of the divide over the president’s policies during the last two years. Schauer voted for health care reform. Walberg wants to repeal it. Walberg opposed the economic stimulus bill that Schauer voted for. Schauer wants more federal support for education. Walberg wants to get rid of the US Department of Education.
This is a close race and a pivotal one as well. The 7th district is seen as key to Republican hopes to reclaim control of the US House of Representatives. And the money has been rolling in. The head of the Michigan Campaign Finance network predicts 10 million dollars might be spent in the 7th district race, .much of it in the form of negative special interest TV ads.