Ed. Note: This is part of a series of articles profiling a limited number of political races where the archives of Michigan Capitol Confidential store significant information that may be of interest to free-market inclined voters. In each of these profiles, the article will cover only the candidates who have compiled a vote history or other record that has been covered by this news service since it began as a print publication in fall 2007.
This is not to slight the candidates whose public record has not yet appeared in MichCapCon. In some cases, voters may determine that these are the best possible candidates in a given race. All voters are strongly encouraged to give every candidate a serious look.
The purpose of this series is to tell the interesting stories that are known about those issues that have been examined by this page over the last several years. MichCapCon has always targeted free-market issues, not individual political personalities. As such, these profiles should be viewed as only a small part of the overall policy picture.
This is not a comprehensive voter guide, not a comprehensive picture of any candidate and certainly not an endorsement of any candidate.
For a larger list of votes written up by MichCapCon, please see: www.MichCapCon.com/12541, and use the search feature on the home page. Additionally, every roll call vote for every bill considered by the Michigan Legislature since 2001 is available at www.MichiganVotes.org.
Michigan's 6th Congressional district is in the far southwest corner of the state. It is currently held by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, who is running for re-election. Upton is being challenged in the Republican primary by former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Texas Township. Western Michigan University associate professor and Kalamazoo city commissioner Don Cooney of Kalamazoo is the only Democrat filed in that primary.
The public policy records of both Republican candidates have been featured in MichCapCon.
Regarding the issues covered in MichCapCon, Jack Hoogendyk has occasionally broken ranks and voted against what the majority of Republicans in the Michigan House were supporting.
Along with approving the $1.4 billion in state tax hikes imposed at the end of 2007, the Michigan Legislature approved budgets for 2008 that were designed to spend the extra tax revenue. Of the 148 lawmakers combined in the Michigan House and Senate, 114 voted for state budgets that spent at least $1 billion more than the prior year appropriations, and 41 voted to spend in excess of $1.4 billion more (see: www.MichCapCon.com/9270).
The budget bills that Hoogendyk voted for increased spending by just $7.5 million. He was one of just six lawmakers whose votes on 2008 budgets added up to less than $100 million in additional spending above the 2007 level.
Also in 2007, Michigan job providers were set to experience $10.7 million in cost reductions when supposedly "temporary" fee increases were set to expire on Sept. 30, 2007. However, before the expiration took place, the Legislature voted to extend the sunset on the fee hikes from 2007 to 2012 (see: www.MichCapCon.com/9333). Of Michigan's 148 lawmakers, 118 voted to approve at least $10 million in fee hike extensions. Hoogendyk was one of 15 lawmakers who voted against all of the fee hike extensions.
A 2003 law imposed "bad driver fees" and other cost increases on Michigan motorists. These fees now take $120 million per year from taxpayers and give it to the state's general fund. While most Republicans in the Michigan Legislature voted for the fees, several who voted "yes" have now begun to publicly admit that they cast a bad vote that was really designed to collect money for government rather than enhance public safety (www.MichCapCon.com/12976). Hoogendyk was of the minority of lawmakers in both parties who originally voted against creating the fees.
MichCapCon's coverage of the Michigan Congressional delegation has focused on rankings of federal lawmakers' votes on spending and economic policy, and this is where Upton's name has usually appeared. However, his recent decisions to commit his vote against two signature policies of the current President have also been the subject of MichCapCon coverage.
A MichCapCon article from February noted a pledge being taken by federal lawmakers to vote against "cap and trade" legislation (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12201). Upton was the very first federal official from Michigan to sign on to the pledge.
Likewise, a similar pledge to repeal the federal health care law was the subject of an April story (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12593). Upton and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, were the first members of Michigan's Congressional delegation to sign on with this effort.
When the Club for Growth, a D.C. free market political organization, recently released its scorecard ranking all members of Congress on their "pro economic growth" voting records during 2009, MichCapCon profiled the scores for the Michigan delegation (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12803). The survey assigned weighted values to votes on taxes, budgets, earmarks, and more to arrive at a measurement of how well they believed that each lawmaker supported economic freedom.
Upton's score was 64 percent, compared to an 82.7 percent national average for all Republicans in Congress. Only one Republican from Michigan beat the GOP national average, and Upton's score placed him third in the Michigan GOP delegation.
The same survey for 2008 was the subject of an earlier MichCapCon profile of the Michigan delegation (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12284). In this instance, Upton posted a 39 percent score, compared with a GOP national average of 71.9 percent and a national average for all members of 36 percent. He was the lowest-scoring Republican in Michigan.
The "RePork Card" is a different ranking put out by the same organization - the Club for Growth. This measures the willingness of all members of Congress to vote against earmarks in the federal budget. The 2009 scores for the Michigan delegation were profiled in a January MichCapCon article (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12007). Nationally, 22 members of Congress received a perfect score of 100 percent, having voted to remove each earmark used in the ranking. The median national score for all Republicans was 69 percent, and three Republicans from Michigan exceeded this mark. Upton's score was 53 percent.
An earlier MichCapCon article examined five specific earmarks that received national attention due to the outrage they produced from the public (see: www.MichCapCon.com/11218). Time Magazine listed three of them on a list of its ten most outrageous earmarks of the year for 2008. Among the votes profiled were those to kill an appropriation for a research center in Maine that bragged about creating dog treats made of lobster, and a museum for mules in California. Of the five earmarks profiled, Upton voted to strip two of them out of the budget.
For a complete list of profiles, please see the July 2010 heading for the Michigan Capitol Confidential Vote History page: www.MichCapCon.com/12541.