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MichCapCon Profile: The 12th Congressional District Primary

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, 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


Michigan's 12th congressional district takes in the southern tier of suburbs in Oakland and Macomb counties. It is currently held by U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Southfield. Levin is being challenged in the Democrat primary by current state Sen. Michael "Mickey" Switalski, D-Roseville.

The only Republican in the race is Don Volaric of Clinton Township.

While usually a reliable vote for the Democrat caucus in the Michigan Senate, Switalski's record includes a number of significant policy positions that are at odds with this conventional image.

In March of this year, he was the only Democrat to vote against a 3 percent pay hike for state employees (see:

Also in March, the Michigan Senate voted to allow state nurses to collect pensions while still working. Switalski was the only senator in either party to oppose this measure, lamenting that it would give "the lucky ones two checks while the unemployed get none" (see:

Last year, the Michigan House overwhelmingly approved the double-dipping pension bill, with only six dissenting votes, which all came from the GOP side.

During the budget battle that led to a $1.4 billion tax hike at the end of 2007, Switalski was a frequent vote in favor of cost-saving budget reforms (see: He was one of just four Democrat senators voting to end unusually generous benefits in the public school retirement system, one of just three Democrat senators voting to allow more competitive bidding for public school employee health insurance plans, and the only Democrat senator to vote in favor of privatizing prison mental health services .

In May of this year, overwhelming majorities from both parties in both houses of the Legislature voted to strip rights from the shareholders of a Michigan-based insurance company (see: Only 15 Republicans in the House and six in the Senate voted to protect the rights of the shareholders.

Yet, Switalski was one of only two Democrat senators to vote in favor of protecting shareholder rights.

Conversely, while MichCapCon has not reported on congressional votes to the same degree as the state Legislature, those votes that have been reported reveal no hints of an independent streak in Levin's record.

The Club for Growth's 2009 pro-growth congressional scorecard assigns Levin a 4 percent score, which was typical for Democrats in the Michigan delegation (see: By contrast, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, is the high-scoring Democrat from Michigan, with 13 percent.

Levin's 2008 score was zero (see:

Like most Michigan Democrats, his Club for Growth score for earmarks and pork in 2009 was a perfect zero — meaning he didn't vote to kill any of the spending items in their survey that he was given a chance to get rid of (

In a profile of votes that would have killed five highly controversial federal earmarks, including one for a museum that honors mules, Levin voted to save all of them (see:

When U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, recently offered up an amendment that would strip out the individual mandate in the federal health care law, 21 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for killing the mandate (see:

Neither Levin nor any other Democrats from Michigan were among the 21.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.