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Published: 9/28/2010

Re-elect Schauer, Dingell 7th District 15th District

Two incumbent Democrats are seeking re-election to the U.S. House from southeast Michigan districts. Both Mark Schauer and John Dingell have earned new terms.

Stretching from Lenawee and Hillsdale counties to Jackson and Battle Creek, and including some Ann Arbor and Lansing suburbs, this district is as diverse as it is volatile. Although the district's voters are mostly Republican, they have elected four different representatives from both parties in the past four elections.

Tim Walberg, a former state lawmaker and fundamentalist minister, defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz in the 2006 Republican primary.

Mr. Schwarz, a moderate, was seen as one of Congress' best-qualified freshmen when he was elected in 2004.

But he lost two years later, after the Manhattan-based antitax group Club for Growth poured vast sums into Mr. Walberg's campaign.

Mr. Walberg barely won the seat that fall against an obscure organic farmer.

Two years ago, he lost in the general election to Mr. Schauer, then a state senator from Battle Creek.

That outcome was partly due to President Obama's statewide victory. But it also happened because Mr. Schauer, a devout Methodist with moderate stands on most issues, was far more representative of the district than Mr. Walberg, who pursued a hard-right social agenda.

Mr. Walberg is trying to reclaim the seat this fall, but MARK SCHAUER's performance this term has shown he deserves re-election.

This district, immediately to the east of the 7th District, includes Monroe County. It is represented by Democrat John Dingell, who has served in Congress longer than anyone else in U.S. history.

First elected to replace his father in 1955, Mr. Dingell is seeking a record 28th full term at age 84.

For the first time in a long time, he faces a serious Republican challenger. Robert Steele, an Ann Arbor cardiologist, is rich enough to have poured considerable assets into his campaign.

Nobody deserves to be automatically elected for life. The day will come, probably soon, when Mr. Dingell should have the foresight to step aside.

But even though he has lost the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, he still works hard to represent his constituents and their interests.

Mr. Steele offers the curious argument that he should be elected because he is a newcomer who knows nothing about politics. How would he feel about a would-be cardiologist who made a similar claim?

Both Representative Dingell and his party need, however reluctantly, to start thinking about the future. On balance, though, John Dingell deserves another term.



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