Former U.S. State Department counter-terrorism specialist Bobby McKenzie has announced he’ll run for Congress in 2014 as a Democrat in Michigan’s 11th District.
The 39-year-old Canton Township resident criticized incumbent Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, R-Milford, as a “divisive Tea Party extremist.” Bentivolio will complete his first term next year and faces a primary challenge from Farmington Hills foreclosure and mortgage attorney Dave Trott, who also is a prominent GOP fundraiser.
The district covers the southwest corner or Oakland County and northwest corner of Wayne County. It’s a Republican-leaning district, but some GOP insiders reportedly have been uncomfortable with Bentivolio, who won the seat after Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was disqualified from running again and resigned in 2012.
Trott, chairman and CEO of the Trott & Trott law firm, raised $648,500 in the third quarter compared with Bentivolio’s $68,000, according to FEC records. He describes himself as a job creator committed to lowering taxes.
McKenzie served 15 years as a counter-terrorism adviser. He previously worked on African refugee issues and was an adjunct lecturer at Wayne State University, according to his campaign announcement.
He said residents of the 11th Congressional District “deserve better” than Bentivolio or Trott, whom he described as “a man who made a fortune off the bankruptcies and foreclosures that have devastated our region.”
He said a year of deliberation and months of planning went into his decision to run.
Democrats have been trying to recruit an 11th District candidate, including interim Wayne State University law school dean Jocelyn Benson — an unsuccessful 2010 candidate for Michigan secretary of state.
McKenzie, who grew up in Dearborn Heights, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
He said his father owned a vacuum cleaner repair shop in Westland for 30 years.