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Published: Sunday, 8/1/2004

9 compete for Smith's seat in District 7

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A fresh face will be sent to Congress by voters in November when 12-year incumbent Nick Smith (R., Addison) retires as the District 7 representative.

Six Republicans and three Democrats are running for their parties' nominations in Tuesday's primary. The winners will square off Nov. 2 to decide who will represent Lenaweee, Hillsdale, Branch, Jackson, Calhoun, and Eaton counties, as well as parts of Barry and Washtenaw counties.

On the Republican ballot is former state Sen. Joe Schwarz, 66, a physician from Battle Creek, who said the most important issues in this year's election are jobs, education, national security, and experience. He is opposed by several state representatives, including Gene DeRossett, 59, of Saline, who has built a construction business. Mr. DeRossett said residents' three main issues include the "sanctity of life," preservation of Second Amendment gun rights, and federal opposition to same sex marriage.

State Representative Clark Bisbee, 55, a travel agent from Jackson, said he is running to "give back" to his community.

Congressman Smith's son, Brad, a 43-year-old lawyer from Addison, is on the ballot, promising to "fight back" against the erosion of social values.

Opposing them are Paul DeWeese, 49, an emergency room physician from Eaton Rapids, who said he will stand up for the right to keep and bear arms, and Tim Walberg, 53, a Tipton pastor and division manager for Moody Bible Institute.

Mr. Walberg is a 16-year veteran of the state house who believes in minimalist government and supports the pro-life stance.

On the Democratic ticket, Sharon Renier, 48, an organic farmer from Munith, is the only woman in the race. She champions feminist issues and favors an equal rights amendment to the federal Constitution.

She is opposed by Drew Walker, 41, who has worked as a consultant to those building the government in Kosovo and to the Urban League. Mr. Walker, who also works as a researcher and social science teacher, said he would work to change trade agreements to benefit Michigan.

Douglas Wilson, 40, of Oxford, labels himself a "working man" and admits that what he considers his greatest strength - his working class background - is also his biggest drawback because he cannot afford to campaign full time or move from his home north of Detroit to the 7th District. He said if he is elected he will move into the district.

In the 15th Congressional District, which includes parts of Monroe County, incumbent John Dingell, (R., Dearborn) is uncontested in the primary. He will face Democrat Dawn Reamer of New Boston in the November general election, who is also unopposed in the primary.



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