Ex-state Rep. Driskell faces Walberg in rematch as Longjohn wins 6th Dem primary
Former state Rep. Gretchen Driskell will get a rematch with U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in November after Driskell won Tuesday's Democratic primary in the 7th District.
With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Driskell had 85 percent of the vote while Steven Friday of Dexter had 15.
"The voter turnout in today’s election confirms what we’ve been seeing on the ground since we announced our campaign over a year ago," said Driskell in a statement. "Every day I talk to people who weren’t involved in previous elections, but are activated now because there is so much at stake."
Driskell will again face Walberg, a pastor from Tipton, who she faced during a contentious campaign in 2016. The two attacked one another over trade deals and trustworthiness. Walberg won with 55 percent of the vote; Driskell garnered 40 percent.
With more voters now engaged, Driskell pledged to flip the 7th district to Democrats in November.
"Mr. Walberg continues to favor his special interest donors over our neighbors and that’s just completely unacceptable," she said. "This year, alongside these newly engaged voters, we will flip this district because we’re not going to get caught up in partisan games when healthcare and jobs are on the line.”
In a statement just minutes after Driskell was declared the winner, Walberg accused her of embracing Nancy Pelosi's "extreme liberal agenda."
"Michigan families can’t afford somebody beholden to Nancy Pelosi who will obstruct and try to reverse the progress we have made," he said.
In the 6th Congressional District, meanwhile, Matt Longjohn, former national health officer of the YMCA, beat out three other Democrats to take on longtime Republican Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph in November.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Longjohn had 38 percent of the vote compared wtih 28 percent for George Franklin. David Benac of Kalamazoo followed with 22 percent and Rich Eichholz of St. Joseph with 13 percent.
Longjohn said health care was the main issued that resonated most with voters and "Fred Upton made it not just a local issue but a national issue."
Still, he said ousting Upton in November is "going to take a lot of hard work."
"It’s going to be an uphill battle," he said. "...(But) with the blue wave we have, we’re planning to be there on Nov. 6."
Upton insisted on adding money into an Affordable Care Act repeal measure over the objections of President Donald Trump. The House never ended up holding a vote on the measure and the issue never got picked up by the Senate.
“Our campaign reflects the common-sense, bipartisan work we’ve done and will continue to do," Upton said in a Tuesday night statement. "From improving health care, boosting our economy, preserving our Great Lakes, and more. That’s what our campaign will be focused on: the issues."
“As always, we’re looking forward to public forums, debates, and connecting directly with voters to discuss what’s important to them. ... We look forward to a tough, clean campaign contrasting our visions for the future.”
The 6th District includes Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties. The district voted for Barack Obama in 2008 (54 percent) and Mitt Romney in 2012 (50 percent). In those elections, Upton won 59 percent of the vote, and 55 percent, respectively.
In the 1st District, which encompasses much of northern Michigan, Democrat Matt Morgan was vying to get on the November ballot as a write-in candidate in Tuesday's primary after a technical mix-up involving his address kept him off the ballot.
By late Tuesday, he said he felt very confident.
Some voters "showed up just to write me in," Morgan said. "We feel really good about where we stand."
Morgan is trying to upset Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman in a seat known as one of the country's most rural congressional districts.
Republicans hold a 9-4 advantage in the state's congressional delegation, though District 13 has been empty since longtime U.S. Rep. John Conyers stepped down earlier this year.