Just two members of Michigan's delegation to Congress have signed a national pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare with "real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government."
At the beginning of this year, as the president and Congress began pushing toward the finish line with their effort to federalize control of the U.S. health care system, the Washington D.C.-based Club for Growth began retargeting its opposition toward the 2010 election by creating the "Repeal It" pledge. It asks 2010 candidates for Congress to pledge to strike down the federalized health care law. As of Monday afternoon, 72 current members of Congress and 307 candidates have signed on. This includes just two current members from Michigan and twelve challengers.
(The information that follows reflects the status of the "Repeal It" pledge, as of close of business on Monday.)
The only two current members listed as signing as of Monday are both Republicans: U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Candice Miller of Harrison Township.
There are no incumbent Democrats from Michigan shown as signatories. Also missing are the names of three incumbent Republicans: Thad McCotter of Livonia, Mike Rogers of Brighton, and Dave Camp of Midland.
(Democrat Bart Stupak and Republican incumbents Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids and Pete Hoekstra of Holland have all announced that they will not be seeking re-election to Congress in 2010.)
The Club for Growth is an educational and political pressure group that promotes "prosperity and opportunity through economic freedom." They are famous for ranking members of Congress on a variety of measures related to their votes for or against free-market policies. Previous Michigan Capitol Confidential coverage of the Club's work has included their "RePork Card" (www.MichCapCon.com/12007) and their recent "Pro Growth" rankings of Congress members (www.MichCapCon.com/12284).
The Club also launches primary challenges against Republican lawmakers who fail to measure up to its free-market standards. In 2004, the group reportedly provided nearly $2 million worth of assistance to Republican Congressman Pat Toomey, R-PA, in an attempt to unseat then-Republican U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.
Despite the support of President George W. Bush and virtually the entire GOP establishment, Specter barely won. Emboldened by this near miss, Toomey announced on April 15 of last year that he would again challenge Specter in the 2010 GOP primary.
Two weeks later, Specter announced that he was switching parties and would run as a Democrat instead.
In 2006, the Club threw its financial support against Michigan Congressman Joe Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, in Michigan's 7th congressional district, due to the Club's opposition to Schwarz's fiscal record. The Club's support was benefitting Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, who defeated Schwarz in the primary and went on to serve one term in Congress before losing in the 2008 general election to Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.
Walberg hopes to return the favor by beating Schauer in 2010 and has signed the "Repeal It" pledge.
But Walberg is not alone, as three of his 7th district Republican primary opponents have signed: attorney Brian Rooney of Dexter, businessman Marvin Carlson of Manchester and pharmaceutical representative Greg Merle of Battle Creek.
Two other incumbent Democrats could be facing challenges from Republicans who have signed the pledge to repeal federalized health care:
- In Michigan's 9th congressional district, Republican Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski of Farmington Hills is the only GOP candidate to have signed the pledge. He seeks to defeat Democrat U.S. Rep. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township.
- In the 15th congressional district, Republican Robert Steele, a cardiologist from Superior Township, is the only Republican yet to sign the pledge. He hopes to knock off Democrat incumbent John Dingell of Dearborn, the longest-serving member of Congress from any state.
Pledge-signing Republicans have also entered the fray in each of the races where the incumbent member of Congress is leaving:
- Attorney Linda Goldthorpe of Curtis in the Upper Peninsula signed the pledge and hopes to succeed Democrat Bart Stupak in the 1st congressional district. Stupak is retiring from Congress.
- U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland is leaving his 2nd congressional district seat and hoping to become Michigan's next governor. Three of the Republicans who want to replace him have signed the pledge: businessman Bill Cooper of Fruitport, current state Sen. Wayne Kuipers of Holland, and former University of Michigan and professional football player Jay Riemersma of Holland.
- Likewise, U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers is retiring from the 3rd congressional district seat. Pledge signers lining up to replace him include two current Republican members of the Michigan Legislature: state Rep. Justin Amash and state Sen. Bill Hardiman — both of Grand Rapids.