Cheboygan, Mich. —
State Sen. Jason Allen is joining a very crowded Republican field for this August’s First District congressional primary.
“He going to get in it,” said Allen’s Chief of Staff Norm Saari Friday, who added that the necessary paperwork to form a campaign committee and start raising money should be filed by “early next week ... hopefully it’s Monday.”
Much of his State Senate district is in the first, but he lives in the 4th and is moving to the 1st. Traverse City used to be in the district prior to redistricting. That's going to be an issue in this race, and I'm sure the other candidates are going to bring that up.
Allen's seat is the 37th District, state senate seat. It covers Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa (UP), Emmet, Grand Traverse, Mackinac (UP), and Presque Isle counties. Only Grand Traverse is in the 4th, but that's Allen's home. In 2006, Allen did win Chippewa and Mackinac Counties in the UP against Antrim County's Sharon Unger, which are two of the more Republican counties there, but it is still no easy feat for someone from Traverse City. Presque Isle North of Alpena was Allen's toughest county. In the 2002 open seat, Allen lost Presque Isle, and had very close wins in Mackinac and Chippewa counties against fellow Traverse City opponent Michael Estes. Give Allen some credit. He did win areas above the bridge with a Traverse City address. I'm not sure how strongly those races were contested, but Estes is or was the Traverse City mayor, so it's not like he's a nobody.
I expect the establishment to back Allen unless Casperson (Who I think has the best shot to win) switches from his tougher on paper state senate race to the congressional race. How that filters down remains to be seen. I think this whole race in November comes down to matchups. Who gets the party nominations, how organized is that person, and where is that person from. Right now the national pundits list this as a tossup. I think that will change in August. To which side is the question.
There's some matchups where I think Allen would be stronger than Benishek, and other matchups where it would be extremely difficult for Allen to win, and easier for Benishek to win. The first district is about matchups, and Stupak used that to perfection until he was so entrenched it was almost impossible to knock him out.
This will be a very interesting primary on both sides. It will tell the story here.