Primaries draw challengers
GOP congressmen face opposition from within party
Two area Republican representatives to Congress will likely face primary election opposition next year.
Both Joe Schwarz and Mike Rogers already have opponents from within the conservative wing of their party ready to oppose them for the GOP nomination. The first-term Schwarz is considered more vulnerable than Rogers, who is in his third term in Congress.
The moderate Schwarz survived an open-seat party primary with five bona-fide conservative candidates in 2004. He then went on to beat first-time Democratic candidate Sharon Renier with 58 percent of the vote in the 7th Congressional District, which includes western and northern Washtenaw County and sprawls across much of central southern Michigan
I'm not a fan of Mr. Schwarz. This goes back to his days in the state senate where he was a frequent critic of gun owners, pro-lifers, and tax hawks. I can respect honest disagreement, but when I'm told that I'm a "bubba who straps on and packs a 9mm" because I support the right of law abiding citizens to carry concealed pistols or that I am a "zealot" because I am pro-life, well I'll be supporting his primary challenger. I will give Schwarz credit for some honesty where he said that he "didn't give a shit" (exact quote) if he got the votes of pro-lifers and 2nd amendment supporters. That much is obvious by his mouth. In the 2002 primary debate in his gubenatorial campaign, he stated that he was not opposed to tax increases. He also brought up his anti-gun views there.
I will concede that Schwarz hasn't been terrible as a congressman, even surprisingly supporting the gun lawsuit ban, but I have to look at a 16+ year record over two years. He is unrepentantly anti-gun. He was one of the anti-conceal carry leaders. He is also pro-abortion and ran on that in the 2002 gubenatoral primary. Add the tax support, and it's three strikes and yer out.
In the 2004 Primary. Joe Schwarz took advantage of a six way primary where each all of the conservative groups split endorsements. The Chamber's choice was Clark Bisbee, who was unacceptable to gun owners and a weak campaigner. Right to Life also supported Bisbee, but the membership did not accept their endorsement. Many of the gun owners supported Gene DeRossett(although I believe the NRA was neutral), but business did not like him since he was more pro-union. Tim Walberg had a large number of religious conservatives backing him, but little financial backing. Paul DeWeese was strongly pro-life and a doctor who had a practice in Eaton County. Brad Smith was the congressman's son who was backed by Club for Growth. All except Smith were former or current representatives.
The results showed in the split. Combine Smith's votes with any other and he wins. Walberg and anyone except DeWeese wins.
Bisbee - 14.02% - 10301 votes
DeRossett - 11.41% - 8379 votes
DeWeese - 6.65% - 4886 votes
Schwarz - 27.82% - 20440 votes
Smith - 22.44% - 16488 votes
Walberg - 17.66% - 12978 votes
Democrat Sharon Renier was a sacrificial lamb opponent, so there was little contest. 3rd Parties did gain 5% of the vote in the general election, which is much higher than normal.
I'm not surprised that Walberg wants a rematch. Schwarz is prepared for one as well. Club for Growth is already involved, and I expect gun groups to jump in as well. Schwarz is much tougher as an incumbent, but I think conservatives have a shot here - as long as it is a one on one primary, and not a three way race.
Good luck to Walberg.