In 2010, Republican Dan Benishek defeated Democrat Gary McDowell to become the U.S. Representative for Michigan's First Congressional District. It was a 25,000 vote victory for the political newcomer, a surgeon and Crystal Falls resident, over McDowell, a sitting State Representative from Rudyard.
Two years later, it is a rematch for the congressional seat. McDowell said it is a different race this time around.
"The big difference is this time, we have a congressman now, Congressman Benishek, who is not representing our values, not working to protect what's most important for us, and that's what I will do," said McDowell.
Many of Benishek's television advertisements have labeled McDowell as a career politician.
"He's been on the ballot every two years since Carter was President," commented Benishek.
While running a family farm and working as a United Parcel Service delivery driver, McDowell spent 22 years on the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners and six years as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. He said he is not a career politician.
"It's just political rhetoric, I guess, there's no truth to it," McDowell said.
Benishek said he has spent his first term working to create jobs that utilize natural resources, like the proposed copper mine in Ironwood Township and the development of Marquette County Road 595.
"This is Northern Michigan, where we've depended on the timber and the mining issues for generations, and these guys in Washington, they don't understand how much we need jobs up here," he said.
McDowell believes Benishek is destroying the Great Lakes by weakening environmental standards.
"I have a record there," McDowell said. "Stop bottling water in the Great Lakes. Ban drilling in the Great Lakes. Stop the Asian Carp from coming in. Making sure polluters pay for their spills. Total opposite of what Congressman Benishek has been fighting for."
Benishek said, "He calls my legislation to try to tone down the E.P.A. a little bit, allow us to have jobs, he calls that destroying the Great Lakes."
Benishek said government regulations are preventing job growth in other areas, too.
"People in small business, the job creators here in Northern Michigan, they tell me the same thing over and over again," he said. "It's the regulations that are making it tough for them to hire. They can't expand their business because they have so many costs due to regulations, they don't know what their taxes are going to be."
McDowell would also concentrate on job creation.
"Strong middle class jobs, putting the workers first, instead of the corporations," he said of his plans.
Many of McDowell's television commercials explain that if he is elected, he would focus on preserving the existing Social Security and Medicare programs.
"I promise to do that, not shift the cost onto our seniors for Medicare and privatizing social security," he said.
Benishek, a surgeon for 30 years, said he knows about Medicare.
"I know how important Medicare is to our seniors," he said. "I want to be sure that Medicare stays for our current seniors and for future generations. The Medicare trust fund is going to be out of money in ten years unless we do something about it. Gary McDowell wants to ignore that. He doesn't want to do anything to fix Medicare."
The Benenson Strategy Group conducted a telephone poll of 400 registered voters from September 29 through October 1. Their results had McDowell receiving 43 percent of the vote and Benishek earning 40 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.