Races too close to call in crucial Michigan district

politics | Nov 02, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

In the traditionally labor-friendly and consistently Democrat 5th Congressional District of Michigan, which includes Flint and Saginaw, the struggle to maintain pro-union Democrat Dale Kildee in office hangs in the balance. His opponent, Republican John Kupiec is a political neophyte and nearly three decades younger. He has presented a vigorous image as a farmer, businessman, and hunter. The Wall Street Journal earlier this year pointed out the race my bring Kupiec first past the finish line should there be a Republican wave. The district voted 59 percent for John Kerry in 2004.

Republican gubernatorial candidate and businessman Rick Snyder is facing Democrat Virg Bernero, the mayor of the state's capital city. According to a source in a suburban precinct of Flint, who was conducting exit polls, voters appear to be splitting their tickets between Republican and Democrat offerings. The source said that voters exiting the polling station he monitored appeared to be divided half and half in these two critical races. Political pundits are predicted Snyder will win in a landslide.

US Representative Dale Kildee was first elected in 1976 and now, at the age of 81, has been tagged by his Republican opponent Kupiec as a "career politician" who is out of touch. Kildee, while always a supporter of the United Auto Workers and other labor organizations, had not been historically in lock-step with the social policy agenda of liberal Democrats. A Catholic, Kildee has been staunchly pro-life even while fellow Democrats, including President Obama, have followed a pro-choice standard. However, Kildee (like fellow Michigander Bart Stupak) ultimately voted in favor of the medical reform legislation fostered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. For this he was soundly denounced by formerly supportive pro-life organizations such as Right-to-Life of Michigan. Kupiec, also a Catholic, has been endorsed by Right-to-Life of Michigan.

The 5th Congressional District, like Michigan as a whole, has been sorely effected by the down turn in the automobile industry that began in the 1980s. Factories have been shuttered and torn down in the Flint area that once employed thousands. The announcement that GM will produce in Flint the engines for its Chevrolet Cruze automobile was welcomed, but has not been enough to dispel gloom in the formerly prosperous region. The 5th Congressional District, now in the east-central part of the state south of Saginaw Bay, once incorporated Grand Rapids - a socially and political conservative metropolitan area in the west of the state. Loss of population, as Michiganders seek job opportunities elsewhere, resulted in consolidation of districts. Flint has seen a significant exodus since the loss of thousands of good-paying industrial jobs. The results of the US Census taken this year could add to its woes, which includes crime, shuttered homes and businesses, and a deficient school system. An expected drop in the number of residents within the city limits may result in a drop in crucial Federal funding for the area.

Info: Representative Dale Kildee YouTube site




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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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