LANSING — State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township, might challenge U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in the 2008 election after brushing off earlier overtures to enter the race.
Schauer, who had pledged to Senate Democrats to serve out his full four-year term through 2010, said Wednesday he is discussing a bid for Congress with family, colleagues and constituents before making a "final decision."
Mark Schauer is an chamelion who'd I'd trust as much as Mr. Clinton, but he's a good campaigner. Why don't I trust him? For example he ran as a major pro-gunner when he first ran for the house in 98. He won, with gun owner support. When he saw a chance at rising into leadership, he comes across and votes for every restriction provision in the concealed carry bill, including one that made cars a no carry zone. He did vote for the final bill in the end however, to say he was pro. Then he cosponsored a nasty gun grabbing package authored by Gilda Jacobs. He'll say and do anything that makes him look good. Right now, he's the yesman to the Matt Millen of Governors, Jennifer "Tax em all" Granholm.
Schauer is however a good campaigner and won tough districts in the past. His old Battle Creek district is a slightly democrat leaning area, but voted for Republican Mike Nofs when Schauer ran for Senate. Schauer's state senate district was a 53% Bush district. I think Schauer is the 2nd best candidate the democrats could run, with one of the Spades (Dudley especially) being their best chance.
Tim Walberg is possibly the most underestimated campaigner in the state. He's never had any easy races, and always finds a way to win. Eight times in a swing district that went democrat when he left. He ousted a tax raising, gun grabbing and pro-abortion incumbent backed by the entire GOP establishment (including Mr Bush) in a primary in 06, and then won the general election in a major democrat year. The populist, free soil, and Reagan democrat leaning 7th district in particular was particulary nasty to the GOP, voting for Granholm by large margins after voting for Bush by a fairly large margin in 2004. They still backed a non-incumbent Republican in Tim Walberg.
Many democrats think Walberg is their easiest shot at a congressional seat in 08. I disagree, even if Schauer runs. (Knollenberg seat) I do think it would be a tough race, but my money would still be on Tim Walberg - and I think Schwarz would actually be easier to beat in a general under the 2006 circumstances.
While I haven't had the time to update all the county and district reports, there's some good information and numbers in the sidebar. District 7, State Senate 19, and the counties involved in this district have all the numbers from 2004 and earlier.
The 2006 numbers are as follows
General Election (first number Walberg, 2nd number Renier)
Branch: 7744, 5572
Calhoun: 18930, 21260
Eaton: 21135, 22108
Hillsdale: 9798, 5000
Jackson: 28140, 25281
Lenawee: 18740, 14379
Washtenaw: 17861, 19065
Total: 122348, 112665
Primary Election (first number Joe Schwarz, 2nd number Walberg)
Branch: 1519, 2309
Calhoun: 5650, 4167
Eaton: 5941, 5032
Hillsdale: 1917, 4043
Jackson: 6777, 8019
Lenawee: 2569, 5687
Washtenaw: 4957, 3988
Total: 29330, 33245
Schauer won against a sacrificial lamb opponent in 06 by the margin of 50612 to 32078, a big win.
For the record, Walberg is from Lenawee County (Tipton) and Renier is from Jackson County (Munith). Schwarz is from Battle Creek in Calhoun County. Schauer is from Benton Township near Battle Creek.
Now why do I think as things stand, Walberg wins in 08, even against Schauer.
1. Primaries. Schauer does not have easy ride to the nomination. Attorney David Naucht is running. Sharon Renier is also running. Former State Senator Jim Berryman is also running. Naucht's raising money and is going to have a campaign. Renier beat democrat establishment campaigns several times in the past. Jim Berryman won a tough state senate district which went Republican when he left. Joe Schwarz may also run and is considering a party switch to something more in line with his tax raising views. There is a significal geographical element to that primary, and it is no gaurantee that Schauer will survive it. I think he would, but not easily.
2. District is more republican in presidential years. Two counties that are not going to be as big of an advantage to democrats in 08 are Eaton and Jackson. Why? State workers. Eaton County has a very large number of state workers commuting to Lansing (as well as a small portion of Lansing). They strongly lean democrat in off year elections. Granholm won Eaton Twice, by a big margin in 06. Bush won it in 04. Jackson went for Bush twice, and Granholm once. Jackson has a lot of state workers due to the corrections industry (prisons). It is very open to democrats at the state level, but not nearly as much at the federal level, and not to leftists.
3. Geography. There are very few strongholds for either party in this district. The democrats have Albion in Calhoun County, the city of Jackson (usually), and part of Lansing in Eaton County. Adrian (Lenawee) and Battle Creek are strong leaners. None of the democrat strongholds were enough to take their respective county in the 04 election, although Calhoun went for Gore in 2000 due mostly to Albion and Battle Creek. The Republicans have Hillsdale and Branch Counties leading the way, Summit Township in Jackson, and some rural areas in the other counties are also strongholds. Most of the rural areas are republican leaning, not strongholds however. There are a lot of socially conservative independents here, and Walberg runs well among them, much to the chagrin to the establishment crowds which do not like him. (That can be a good thing) Calhoun did not like Walberg to begin with due to the Schwarz defeat. I do not see that much more of a swing against him from 04. Schauer is probably too leftist and too establishment democrat to take Jackson in a federal level race against a non-sacrificial lamb. Eaton would be close, but probably 50/50 at best. He'll probably take Washtenaw due to the Ann Arbor leftists in Scio Township, although the Manchester and Salem areas will offset some of it. Schauer can forget about Branch, Hillsdale, and Lenawee counties altogether. That's too much to make up, despite a Battle Creek homer advantage.
4. Taxes. Granholm's tax proposals are showing a newer side to Schauer - and not a good one to a populist district, such as this one.
5. Last but not least is Walberg's maverick side. He's not a Bush robot, but a conservative first and foremost, and his social conservatism plays well in most parts of this district (including swing areas) outside of areas like Scio Township (Ann Arbor) in Washtenaw County and maybe Delta Township, although I've still never quite figured that area out.
Schauer will make this a race, but my money is on Tim Walberg, and I'm rather confident about this matchup. If this was one of the Spade brothers vs Walberg, I'd be less confident.