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U.S. Rep. Benishek endorses Marco Rubio for president

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek became the third Michigan Republican congressman to endorse U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for the GOP presidential nomination.

The Rubio campaign announced the third-term Upper Peninsula lawmaker’s endorsement Thursday, about two and a half weeks before Michigan’s primary on March 8.

Benishek, the Crystal Falls surgeon who represents the vast northern Michigan district, joins U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and John Moolenaar of Midland, who co-chair Rubio’s Michigan campaign. Rubio has the most Michigan congressional endorsements in the six-candidate GOP field.

“We cannot afford more of the same by electing Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. What we need now is a leader who understands the needs and priorities of Michigan families and workers: keeping our nation secure and growing our economy from the ground up,” Benishek said in a statement.

“Marco Rubio reached out to me, and I believe he is qualified and ready to solve the challenges before us. I am proud to endorse him for president and look forward to helping him win in Michigan.”

The state’s top Republicans are not united behind one candidate for the 2016 nominee.

U.S. Reps. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, and Dave Trott of Birmingham are backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose Michigan campaign is chaired by Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Retiring U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, supported former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina after her appearance at the mid-September Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island. Fiorina dropped out of the race Feb. 10 after finishing seventh in New Hampshire’s primary.

Third-term U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, supported U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who dropped out of the White House race Feb. 3, following a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses.

U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg of Tipton and Fred Upton of St. Joseph, the delegation’s senior Republican, have not endorsed any candidate.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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