WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Democratic state Sen. Jim Berryman said Tuesday he will run for Congress in Michigan's 7th district, setting up a potential rematch against Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.
Berryman, who was defeated by Walberg for a state legislative seat in 1988, will be making his second run for Congress. He was defeated by Rep. Nick Smith, R-Addison, in 1998 after briefly campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Berryman, 60, a former Adrian mayor, said he decided to enter the race after being encouraged by voters in the south-central Michigan district.
Interesting matchup. Berryman was the State Senator for what is now mostly Randy Richardville/Bev Hammerstrom's district. It was a true swing district that elected populist democrats and strong conservatives. Tim Walberg is from the same area and beat Berryman once. Walberg was actually replaced by a moderate (pro-life, semi-pro gun) democrat in Doug Spade when he left office. Spade has since been replaced by his brother. Lenawee County is a conservative county, but not necessary a Republican county, and Adrian itself tilts democrat. Berryman was clobbered (outside of Lenawee)in 1998 against Nick Smith with Geoff Fieger at the top of the ticket, but I can not count him out. He's a veteran campaigner and has won tough districts in the past. Nick Smith blew out Berryman by winning by 20% in Eaton and Jackson, and 12% in Calhoun. Berryman got 48% against Smith in Lenawee. I'm not going to count this guy out. However, do not underestimate Tim Walberg. He's never had an easy election and knows how to win tough races.
Joe Schwarz is also considering a run, and hasn't decided what party. What's interesting there is that the Republican establishment rallied behind him in his primary challenge, but the grassroots (fiscal, gun owners, pro-lifers) told him off. I doubt he'll get past the primary - in either party. Walberg will beat him again. Berryman's a loyal democrat and would beat him. Schwarz is a big mouth and that will cost him once again. He's strong in Calhoun and Eaton County where he was a state senator. He has strength about state workers and in Battle Creek, but he's weak elsewhere in the district.
Sharon Renier is trying again for a 3rd time as well.
The 7th district in general was nasty to Republicans in 06. I haven't done all the numbers crunching yet due to lack of time, but the populists turned against Bush and took it out on the entire ticket due to the lack of leadership and flat out hostility to old boys club challenges (Pence vs Boehner leadership race, failure to stop Bush from spending like a leftist) right now. Granholm won the 7th district, first time since Clinton pulled it off against Dole.
Walberg had enough strength in Jackson, Lenawee, Branch, and Hillsdale Counties to offset his losses in Calhoun (Schwarz anger, swing county), Eaton (Democrat leaning in gubenatorial years, republican leaning in presidential years), and Washtenaw Counties (Chelsea, Dexter moving left, Scio is a democrat stronghold).
I think this race will be determined by who the Republicans run in 2008. Will they run a candidate with a plan to clean up the clustermuck in Washington, or will it be the same old song and dance. If Walberg isn't handycapped from the top, he'll be fine. If he is, we're in trouble. That's all there is to it.