Campaign reports suggest limits of congressional competition

Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives have filed their campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2012. Those reports suggest a limited number of competitive primaries and even fewer competitive races in the November general election. A synopsis of races that are likely to be the most competitive follows.

1st District

Former Democratic state representative Gary McDowell has a wide financial advantage over Derek Bailey, the tribal chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, in the 1st District Democratic primary. As of March 31st, McDowell had $502,674 cash on hand compared to Bailey’s total of $78,296.

Incumbent 1st District Republican Rep. Dan Benishek had $512,297 in cash on hand.

Almost $7 million was spent in the 1st District in 2010 when Benishek defeated McDowell to win the then-open seat. In 2010 Benishek raised $1.3 million and McDowell raised $836,000. Third-party groups supporting Benishek and opposing McDowell spent $3.3 million. Third-party groups supporting McDowell and opposing Benishek spent $1.5 million

3rd District

Former state representative Steve Pestka has a two-to-one advantage in cash on hand in the 3rd District Democratic primary race against Trevor Thompson: $195,000 to $90,000. A large part of the difference is due to Pestka’s self-funding of $18,800 and a loan of $50,000 he made to his campaign.

Incumbent 3rd District Republican Rep. Justin Amash had $200,000 cash on hand.

Amash had a relatively narrow fundraising advantage over Democrat Pat Miles in 2010: $1,050,000 to $960,000. However, he defeated Miles by almost 50,000 votes out of 217,000 votes cast. The 3rd District has become marginally more favorable to Democrats since redistricting with the inclusion of Calhoun County.

6th District

The anti-tax Club for Growth has pledged support for former state representative Jack Hoogendyk in his challenge to incumbent Rep. Fred Upton in the 6th District Republican primary. Fundraising through the first quarter suggests little competition. Upton had $2,270,000 in cash on hand. Hoogendyk had $57,000. The Club for Growth spent $6,000 for cable TV advertisements attacking Upton earlier this year, but that was matched twenty-fold by a $125,000 television ad blitz supporting Upton by the U.S. and Michigan Chambers of Commerce.

The Club for Growth provided 90 percent of the funds for now-Rep. Tim Walberg when he defeated then-freshman Rep. Joe Schwarz in the old 7th District Republican primary in 2006. The Club bundled $607,000 of earmarked individual contributions and made $514,000 in independent expenditures in that campaign. So far the Club has not generated earmarked contributions for Hoogendyk. The Club has a bigger mountain to climb in 2012 than it did in 2006, taking on the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as he seeks his 14th term in office.

13th District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Conyers faces at least two challengers who are raising money for the 13th District Democratic primary. State Sens. Glenn Anderson and Bert Johnson have raised $134,000 and $58,000, respectively, while Conyers has raised $576,000. Conyers had $132,000 in cash on hand, Anderson had $74,000 and Johnson had $41,000.

14th District

Incumbent Rep. Gary Peters has a wide financial advantage over fellow incumbent Rep. Hansen Clarke and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence in the 14th District Democratic primary. Peters had more than $1.2 million in cash on hand, Clarke had $564,000 and Lawrence had $65,000.

Peters raised $3.4 million in 2010 in winning a $9 million race in the old 9th District that featured more than $4 million in third-party spending. Clarke raised $588,000 in winning the old 13th District. He defeated former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the 2010 primary.

Summaries for all congressional candidates who have reported raising money are attached to this news release.

This release previously contained a fund balance for Glenn Anderson that was based on Sen. Anderson's original filing of his April quartely report with the FEC. It has been revised to reflect Sen. Anderson's revised April quarterly.

Press Release 2012 News