Editorial: Our primary picks for Congress

The Detroit News

Michigan’s congressional delegation continues its ongoing transformation this year with the retirements of two more incumbents. The regular addition of fresh faces to the delegation can be healthy, if voters pick representatives with the potential to ultimately replace the clout of the outgoing incumbents.

Two of the state’s 14 congressional seats are open this fall, with the decisions by Republican Reps. Candice Miller in the 10th District and Dan Benishek in the 1st District not to seek reelection.

The 10th District, covering Macomb and St. Clair counties, is perhaps the most intense of the five districts with contested primaries. That’s largely due to the big spending campaign of Republican businessman Paul Mitchell, who moved to the district to run for congress. Mitchell made a similarly well-funded bid for the 4th District seat in 2014, which was won by Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

While Mitchell is a solid conservative, we believe the fine representation the district has enjoyed from Miller will be best continued by state Sen. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair Township.

As chair of the Senate Education Committee, Pavlov has been a consistent voice for school reform, leading the effort to bring more accountability to the classroom.

A lifelong resident of the district, Pavlov understands the importance of lakes Huron and St. Clair to the local economy and will continue Miller’s advocacy for the Great Lakes and other Michigan waterways.

His long service in the Legislature — he served three-terms in the state House before being elected to the Senate — and extensive career as a small businessman has prepared him well for Congress. We endorse Phil Pavlov in the 10th District Republican primary.

The other Republicans in the race are state Rep. Anthony Forlini, former state Sen. Alan Sanborn and businessman David VanAssche. The winner will face Frank Accavitti, who is uncontested in the Democratic primary.

The 1st District covers much of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, captured the traditionally Democratic seat in the 2010 tea party wave.

Of the three Republicans hoping to replace him, we support former state Sen. Jason Allen, who narrowly lost in 2010 to Benishek. While serving in the Legislature, Allen, of Traverse City, was a pragmatic conservative committed to problem solving. He was an effective advocate of spending restraint, while at the same time understanding the importance of maintaining the state’s vital services and infrastructure. He also has been a champion of military veterans.

The other Republican candidates are state Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba and retired Marine Gen. Jack Bergman of Watersmeet.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, former state Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson is vying with former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon for the nomination.

While Cannon has deeper roots in the community, Lon Johnson brings solid ideas and admirable energy to the race, and he gets our endorsement.

The other contested primaries are for the Republican nomination in the 7th District, and the Democratic nominations in the 13th and 14th districts.

In the 7th District, incumbent Tim Walberg should be renominated.

In the 13th, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is mounting a courageous challenge to long-standing Rep. John Conyers of Detroit. Conyers has served the district for more than 50 years, and sometimes well, but his effectiveness and influence have waned in recent decades. It’s time for a change. Janice Winfrey should get the nomination.

In the 14th District, first term incumbent Brenda Lawrence of Southfield faces two challengers for the Democratic nomination, Terrance Morrison and Vanessa Moss. Although Brenda Lawrence has been given to grandstanding in her freshman term, she should be renominated.