The following post is also being syndicated on Right Michigan, where I was offered a position to cover Michigan’s 9th District:
I would first like to thank Nick for allowing me the opportunity to cover stories on the race for Michigan’s 9th District for his site.
First, what exactly is Michigan’s 9th District?
It’s Oakland, Bloomfield, Southfield, and West Bloomfield townships; parts of Orion and Waterford townships; the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Troy, Clawson, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Lake Angelus; and the villages of Franklin, Bingham Farms and Beverly Hills (bold indicates where Representative Knollenberg won; italics indicate a close margin; villages were not categorized since they do not vote on their own). Or, for you visual people, it’s this:
What are the demographics?
- 83.1% White
- 8.1% Black
- 5.6% Asian
- 3.0% Hispanic
- 0.5% Native American
- 0.5% Other
So, how does the district vote?
- The district has been given Cook Partisan Index of R+0, meaning that the district is more Republican than other average districts, but by less than 1%.
- The district voted for George Bush in 2004.
- The district voted for Al Gore in 2000 (although the make-up of the district was different from now).
- The district has voted for Joe Knollenberg since 2002.
Why is this race so important?
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) placed this district in the top 13 districts that they are targetting in their Red to Blue campaign.
What exactly is the Red to Blue campaign?
The DCCC put out this press release explaining the campaign:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today announced the first round of Red to Blue candidates challenging Republican incumbents. This is the second slate of Democratic congressional candidates that have qualified for the competitive DCCC Red to Blue program, the first slate was for candidates in open seats. These candidates earned a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress.
These candidates have come out of the gate strong and the Red to Blue Program will give them the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November,” said Chairman Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The candidates for change in our first round of challenger Red to Blue are strong examples of Democrats who represent a commitment to new priorities for the families in their districts.
The Red to Blue program highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, and strategic support. The program will introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns.
Chairman Van Hollen joined Red to Blue co-chairs Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Artur Davis (D-AL), and Bruce Braley (D-IA) to announce the first 13 challenger candidates for change who qualified for the Red to Blue:
Kay Barnes (MO-06)
Anne Barth (WV-02)
Darcy Burner (WA-08)
Robert Daskas (NV-03)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Christine Jennings (FL-13)
Larry Kissell (NC-08)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
Eric Massa (NY-29)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Mark Schauer (MI-07)
Dan Seals (IL-10)
Red to Blue was a proven success in the 2004 and 2006 cycles. In 2004, the Red to Blue program raised nearly $7.5 million for twenty seven campaigns across the country with an average of more than $250,000 per campaign. In 2006, the Red to Blue program raised nearly $22.6 million for 56 campaigns with an average of $404,000 per campaign. Red to Blue was also responsible for solidifying the structure of dozens of campaigns and making a real difference for Democrats across America.
Soon after the DCCC put this up on their website, they got some comments about these candidates not being what’s best for the party in terms of stances, but the fact that they’ll be able to raise large amounts of money:
Your only criteria for inclusion seem to be fund-raising ability, not issues.
Isn’t this what scuttled the progress of the party over the years since
you deep-sixed progressive programs and started going to corporations hat in hand?
Soon after other negative comments, the DCCC disabled comments on that press release.
What were the results of the 2006 Election?
- Joe Knollenberg (R) 142,290 51.56%
- Nancy Skinner (D) 127,620 46.21%
- Adam Goodman (L) 3,702 1.34%
- Matthew R. Abel (G) 2,468 0.89%
Is this actually close?
For Knollenberg, it is somewhat close, since he was a 14-year incumbent, but he still won by over 5%.
So, who exactly is Gary Peters?
Gary Peters is running against Representative Knollenberg. He was a state Senator from 1994-2002, when he was term-limited out. He then ran against Mike Cox for Attorney General in 2002, where he lost the general election.
He was the Michigan Lottery Commissioner from 2003-2007.
He was hired to teach at Central Michigan University, where he was the center of controversy (that’s a way too long story to tell, so just read The Peters Report or my category of posts on him here, or just search “Gary Peters” here on the Right Michigan website).
Who is Jack Kevorkian?
Jack Kevorkian is a doctor who was sent to jail a few years ago for assisting a patient in committing suicide. Dr. Kevorkian hired attorney Geoffrey Fieger to represent him in that case, but obviously, he lost. He was sentenced for 10-25 years, but only served 8, after the parole board let him out early due to his kidney illness. He was expected to die within a year of leaving prison in May of 2006, but instead, he decided to run for Congress, against Joe Knollenberg and Gary Peters.
How will having Dr. Kevorkian running affect the race?
That is somewhat hard to tell. I have done some calculations. In 1998, Proposal B was brought before voters to allow for assisted suicide. Although it failed statewide as well as in Oakland County, it did better than average in the 9th District (33.05%-66.95%). I did some calculations, and if we assume that only 75% of voters who voted against the proposal vote for Knollenberg in 2008, Knollenberg would still come out with a win just above 50%. Peters would received around 45%, and Kevorkian would receive 5%.
This assumes that Kevorkian only gets 5%, and I think he will get a little more from the Democrats who are unsatissfied with the direction of the party. So, if we assume that Kevorkian gets 8%, 2% more from Peters and 1% from swing-Knollenberg-voters (libertarians), we would have Knollenberg with 49%, Peters with 43% and Kevorkian with 8%. This leaves plenty of room for Knollenberg to lose a few voters who are mad at the Republican party an the Iraq War, but I think Knollenberg is pretty safe this election.
Again, I’d like to thank Nick for allowing me to report on this race.
Next week, I’ll be looking into some of the fundraising of this race.
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