Skip to comments.Schwarz Loses in Heated Primary (MI)
Posted on 08/09/2006 9:07:42 AM PDT by Kieri
Schwarz loses in heated primary Wednesday, August 09, 2006 By Susan J. Demas firstname.lastname@example.org -- 768-4927
Standing in the birthplace of the Republican Party, Tim Walberg vowed Tuesday his resounding victory would deliver the GOP back to its "traditional roots."
The former state lawmaker vanquished U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, 53 percent to 47 percent, in the 7th District congressional primary. They faced off in the 2004 primary, which Schwarz won and Walberg finished third.
"For two years, the electorate was frustrated at the results of the last election," Walberg, 55, told a crowd of 300 supporters at Daryl's Downtown restaurant in Jackson.
"This was about a clear contrast between a conservative and a liberal."
With an ad blitz topping $3 million between the candidates, this was the most hotly contested congressional race in Michigan.
Schwarz, 68, outspent the Tipton preacher by more than 2-to-1.
But even President Bush's stamp of approval couldn't boost the incumbent, a surgeon, Vietnam veteran and former CIA spy.
It was a night of high-profile primary defeats, with Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut also going down in flames.
Analysts hailed Walberg's underdog triumph a national bellwether.
"Moderates are a dying breed," said Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics. "They're not going to be elected."
Walberg's victory in November is considered a near-lock in the solidly Republican district.
The 'L' word
The "liberal" label dogged the freshman congressman throughout the race, fueled by a more than $500,000 ad campaign by the pro-business lobby Club for Growth.
The Washington-based group proclaimed Schwarz its top target, launching the Web site JoeSchwarzIsALiberal.com.
Schwarz committed social-conservative heresy by backing abortion rights and voting against a federal amendment banning gay marriage.
That cost him the votes of many, including Susie Soloc, 60.
"Tim Walberg is a conservative Christian," the Rives Township homemaker said. "His pro-life stance is important to us."
Schwarz said "distortions and fabrications" of his voting record -- especially on abortion, taxes and immigration -- helped cost him the election.
"You have a one-issue group with unlimited funding," the Battle Creek Republican said. "I did what I thought was right. I will not compromise on principle. I will not pander."
The Democrats didn't deliver.
Schwarz had hoped crossover votes would be his salvation, as they were in the six-way race two years ago. Former state Sen. Jim Berryman, D-Adrian, was charged with getting out the vote.
Walberg handily carried Jackson County -- the largest voting bloc in the district -- with 54 percent to 46 percent. He also took Branch, Hillsdale and Lenawee counties by strong margins, leaving Schwarz to make up the difference in Calhoun, Eaton and Washtenaw counties.
By 10:30 p.m., Schwarz could see the writing on the wall, one hour before conceding the race.
"We didn't get enough 'oomph' in places we really needed it," he told 200 boosters at Schuler's restaurant in Marshall.
Ballenger said the congressman's "anger and arrogance" caught up with him.
"This is a real personal rebuke to Joe Schwarz," he said.
Still, the pundit doubted that Walberg's boilerplate of slashed spending would deliver much for the 7th District.
"I see him as a weak congressman -- a back burner," Ballenger said. "I'd be surprised if he's much of a force in Washington."
The morning after
Amid the jubilant celebration -- where Walberg joked to supporters, "Don't get me preachin'" -- the pastor struck a tone of reconciliation for the severed GOP.
"Traditional values aren't meant to divide people. They're to unite people," he said. "We need to open our arms to make room for people who support the Republican platform."
But Walberg's victory could be bad news in the long run for the GOP.
James Agee, co-director of the Michigan Policy Leadership Program at Michigan State University, doesn't buy that Walberg can bridge the party divide as Schwarz did -- which could make some moderates flee to the Democrats.
"Every time you require people to be in lock-step, it's bad for the party," said Agee, a former Democratic state legislator from Muskegon.
Lifelong Republican Sherry Swan, 59, isn't revoking her party membership.
But the Schwarz backer doesn't plan to punch her ballot for Walberg.
"He's an extremist, and he is not a truthful person," the Battle Creek nursing assistant said.
As for Schwarz, he's planning to explore his party's infancy after losing what will likely be his last political fight right here in Jackson -- the cradle of the GOP.
The congressman is headed to his pastoral Montana cabin on Flathead Lake, built near the childhood home of his late wife, Anne.
There he'll crack open a copy of the Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestseller "Team of Rivals," dissecting the Lincoln presidency.
Schwarz sighed, "This has been the most difficult race I've been in."
Walberg said he's in the mood for post-election adventure -- as if planning a move to Washington isn't bold enough.
He's embarking on a motorcycle ride to Prince Edward Island, Canada, with his wife, Sue -- "a huge 'Anne of Green Gables' fan," he said.
Since leaping into the race in November, Walberg has logged about 35,000 miles on his Buick Park Avenue. Jumping on his 2002 Harley-Davidson Road King will be a welcome change.
Said the GOP nominee, grinning: "It's just a total sense of freedom."
Ballenger and his "Inside Politics" panel were wrong across the board when it came to Schwarz -- they ALL predicted he'd win. They were very, very wrong. I don't know if I'd agree that moderates are a dying species, but the last thing I want is another pragmatist going to DC. That's how we got a RINO party that's spending like the liberal democrats.
It is great to see a RINO leave DC. Maybe there is hope for the GOP yet.
Too bad you were elected to represent the people in your district and not yourself, bonehead.
Hope we haven't created an opening for Democrats to take this seat. We can't afford it folks. Hope this is a safe Republican seat. I'll take a "RINO" in this seat over a Democrat who will contribute to Pelosi becoming speaker of the House. I'm PRAYING this is a safe GOP seat.
That's exactly why I want candidates to tell me what they believe and not what they think I want to hear. If I agree I'll vote for them.
Yeah. Because Schwartz was so popular with the party that they voted him out. Moron.
Read the damn article. It is.
Representatives should vote the way they believe is right, not betray their convictions because of popular sentiment.
Schwarz just has the wrong convictions.
A pathetic waste of money that could have gone to underfunded challegers farther down the food chain.
Ken Blackwell and Lynn Swann in particular are underfunded.
If people are stupid enough to believe this lie, the is no hope for the Conservative movement. To compare spending level straight up with no thought for Inflantion or Population growth is intellectual dishonest.
Add to that the difference between spending on the War, and spending in Peace time, plus the difference in spending between what Clinton wanted to spend and what the Republican Congress gave hims, this "Spending" talking point is proven a lie. Counting Homeland Security Spending in with "Domestic Spending" is such an obvious tactics of statistic fraud I am surprised so many of you fell for it.
But I know, the Perpetual Bitchers have repeated this lie so often then the Always Whining simply mindlessly accept it as fact instead of bothering to thing. Judges, Judges, Judges Whiners. On that point alone the GOP has done far more good for the Conservative Movement then all the Perpetually Whining ever have, or will, do for us.
Impeachment? So what, let congress get caught up in it, at least they won't have as much time to pass more laws that steal money from my paycheck for 2 years.
Wow, why the need to be so angry? Plus, there's nothing in the article that I saw that indicates this is a safe seat. "The cradle of the GOP" is a historical reference, not a reference to the current composition of the district.
I'd say that's how it worked this time, wouldn't you? If he had represented his district effectively he'd still be there.
I moved to Battle Creek this past March, so I knew nothing about the local politics. I visited both campaigns websites. I watched the TV ads for both Schwarz and Walberg and listened to the radio spots. I was appalled by the Schwarz campaign and its lies about the Fair Tax initiative. That in itself turned me against the "former CIA operative." His voting record on pork barrel spending made him one of the worst offenders in the Republican party. I don't know, but perhaps that can be explained away by how these spending bills are structured (example: vote against the Pork, and you're voting against vital dollars for our Troops). Walberg was also criticized in a commercial as the worst Michigan legislator according to the Detroit News -- if you read the fine print, you would see that happened in 1988. Never said what he was so bad about - maybe he didn't want to keep taxing people out of Michigan??? People want a clear choice, not moderates who are so wishy washy on everything you never know what they'll do. Hopefully Walberg will join up with Tancredo and Colburn from Oklahoma.
A higher winning percentage than Lamont. Why didn't the MSM declare this race as a repudiation of liberal policies and a referendum on the Democrat Party?
The Republicans are spending on unnecessary, unconstitutional, pork just like the Democrats.
I think you'd see this Congress as being the glory days compared to what a Pelosi congress would mean. Don't be so short-sighted. When they defund the war, then what?
Good job Michigan. I guess us 1 percenters can get people elected....LOL!!!!
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