Monday, October 11, 2010

Detroit News Editorial Page: Rocky Raczkowski for Congress!

Editorial: Candidates best suited for U.S. House of Representatives
These candidates are best suited to serve Michigan residents in the House of Representatives
It's a strange year in Michigan for congressional races, as it is across the country. One incumbent congresswoman — Democrat Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick — was booted by voters in the August primary, and three more face unusually spirited challenges.

Meanwhile, voters also have the chance to fill three seats left open by retirements. We offer these endorsements in the most competitive races: 9th District (Oakland County): This is among the most-watched races in the country because it is a microcosm of the national election trend. Democratic Rep. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Hills won his seat during the 2008 Obama tsunami. Now, Peters is at risk of becoming a victim of the tidal wave that's expected to wash out Democrats. His opponent is Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski of Farmington Hills, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and former state lawmaker. Like many other moderate Democrats, Peters abandoned his stated commitment to fiscal discipline and bowed to pressure from House leadership in backing questionable big-spending initiatives. It is only since the campaign intensified that he has returned to the economic positions he championed while seeking the office in 2008.

Raczkowski promises to make reducing the debt and spending his top priorities in Congress. He backs a pay cut for federal employees, who have seen their incomes rise while workers in the private sector have sacrificed pay and benefits.

And in an unusual twist for a conservative, Raczkowski says he would advocate an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan, where he says the hugely expensive attempt at nation building is doomed to failure.

In a year in which controlling spending and reining in the deficit to foster a better climate for job creation top the concerns of voters, Rocky Raczkowski is the better choice in the 9th District. 15th District (western Wayne, Washtenaw and Monroe counties): Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, who is seeking his 29th term in the House, also faces a tough challenge from a fiscally conservative Republican opponent, Dr. Rob Steele of Ypsilanti. Dingell's name is on the unpopular health care bill, he wholeheartedly backed the stimulus and would raise taxes on high-income earners. But in a district that includes Ann Arbor, Dingell's views are not so out of line with those of the people he represents.

Yet Dingell has hardly marched lock step with the House leadership. In fact, the far-left wing of his party, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conspired to oust Dingell from the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

He was targeted for the same reason we feel he should remain in Congress: because he fought for the domestic automobile industry. Dingell has often been the only thing standing between Detroit's automakers and the coastal liberals who would regulate them out of business. He vows to continue to do so, and Michigan will need him to keep that vow.

The industry is not out of danger. Just this month, the Obama administration floated the possibility of raising the mileage mandate to 60 mpg by 2025. Dingell understands the cost of such regulation, and insists that any environmental benefits be balanced against the impact on automotive jobs. Michigan can't afford to lose his reasonable voice. John Dingell should be returned for another term.

13th District (Detroit, Grosse Pointes): State Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, upset Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the primary and now faces Republican John Hauler, a Grosse Pointe Woods businessman.

We gave Hauler a hard look because we believe Congress needs the balance of more fiscal conservatives. But we found his support of protectionist trade policies curious and were disappointed that he wouldn't consider a private investment option for Social Security.

Clarke takes similar positions on those issues, but it's what you'd expect from a candidate who has never pretended to be anything but liberal. We are intrigued by Clarke's enthusiastic commitment to attack deficit spending, and without raising taxes. He says he is a disciple of anti-debt financial planner Dave Ramsey in his personal life, claiming to now live debt-free. That sort of discipline would be useful in the Democratic caucus.

In truth, we've often been critical of Clarke's performance in the Senate. But there's no question about his integrity, his deep affection for the people of his district, or his understanding of their challenges. Hansen Clarke will give the 13th District a better representative than it's had in decades.

7th District: (south, mid-Michigan) This race is a rematch of the 2008 election, when Democrat Mark Schauer of Battle Creek defeated the first-term Republican incumbent Tim Wahlberg of Tipton. Neither candidate is perfect for the district's moderate, swing voters. Schauer is too liberal and Wahlberg is too conservative.

But his commitment to fiscal discipline and deficit reduction gives Wahlberg an edge this time. Schauer has been one of the most loyal votes for Pelosi, and that has often placed him at odds with the people he was elected to represent.

Wahlberg would make the 2001 tax cuts permanent to bring some certainty to the economy, and he would roll back the spending explosion of the past several years. He pledges to fight to keep Republicans from repeating their mistakes after winning the House in 1994, when they abandoned their pledge to be fiscally responsible. He says he will stay focused on economic issues and not actively pursue a socially conservative agenda. Tim Wahlberg is the best choice for the 7th District. 1st District (northern Michigan, Upper Peninsula): The last-minute retirement of veteran Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak left this seat wide open. A vigorous campaign is being fought between Republican Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls, and Gary McDowell of Pickford.

McDowell, a farmer, has experience in the state Legislature, where he voted against reforms that would have restructured state spending. He would likely do the same in Washington.

Benishek is a physician who would bring experience working in the medical industry to the rewriting of the health care bill. He calls himself a deficit hawk, and would vote against tax hikes that would threaten the nation's struggling economic recovery. Dan Benishek should be elected in the 1st District.

2nd District (west Michigan): Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra retired from this seat to run for governor. It's being sought by Republican Bill Huizenga, a term-limited state senator from Zeeland, and Democrat Fred Johnson, a Hope College professor from Holland.

Huizenga was an advocate of reform in the Senate, as well as for measures that would spark economic growth, such as the Michigan film incentives. He would vote to hold the line on spending in the House, but he could also be counted on to offer innovative ideas for growing the economy. Bill Huizenga would serve the 2nd District well.

3rd District (Grand Rapids area): Another retirement, that of Republican Rep. Vern Ehlers, leaves this seat open. The contenders are first term state Rep. Justin Amash, R-Grand Rapids, and Democrat Pat Miles, a Grand Rapids attorney.

Miles is a bright and engaging candidate. But he backs most of the initiatives passed by Congress over the past two years, and that places him out of step with much of this conservative district. He would also raise taxes in the face of a faltering recovery.

Amash says he would encourage job creation by establishing a more certain tax and regulatory environment. He also would hold the line on taxes and spending. Justin Amash is best for the 3rd District. The remaining congressional seats in Michigan are held by incumbents who face less vigorous challenges.

From The Detroit News:

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