LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – With so much happening in the race for the White House it’s easy to forget about the major state and local races that you’ll see on the ballot next month.
6 News Jackson bureau reporter Aaron Dimick took a closer look at the race for Michigan’s 7th Congressional district between incumbent Tim Walberg and challenger Gretchen Driskell.
It’s a big district.
Looking at a map, you can that it starts in Monroe, cuts across southern Michigan, and includes parts of suburban Ann Arbor and Lansing.
But the heart of this district is Jackson County.
That’s where 6 News met up with both candidates who are working very hard to get your vote.
Turning on a television this election season, it’s hard not to be bombarded with election ads.
Many from the incumbant, Tim Walberg.
The Republican pastor from Lenawee County has been elected to this seat for four terms.
Walberg says he’s advocated for workforce development, and pushed back against government regulation. “Public service certainly drives me and a love for this country,” said Rep. Walberg. “The foundational principles of this country give so much freedom, and they’re being pushed on and some are being targeted.”
His opponent is Democrat Gretchen Driskell. She’s a former mayor of Saline and has served Washtenaw County in the state house for four years.
Driskell says her achievements include working closely with communities on things like jobs and rural internet.
“I believe that all of us can help make the world a better place, I passionately believe in that,” explained Driskell. “And, to be honest, I am frustrated with the leadership, and the lack of representation.”
Multiple ads have attacked Walberg on trade deals, branding him “trade-deal Tim”.
They say Walberg hurt Michigan workers by voting for every trade deal he’s come across.
“So, will you represent your constituencies, like I did?,” asks Walberg. “Or will you posture on trade and not give us the chance to have 95% of the consumer base, which is outside of the United States? And then to say that I supported TPP, it’s wrong.”
Reports show Walberg voted to fast track trade deals so they could quickly come up for votes in Congress.
But Walberg says that doesn’t mean he actually supports the trade deals, like the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership.
Walberg has hit back with ads of his own about Driskell’s resume’.
Driskell says its all a misunderstanding.
“What happened with the broker agent situation is that I have never said that I was a managing or an associate broker, but broker and agent are used interchangeably,” explained Driskell.
The Seventh Congressional District as a highly contested race, with money pouring in from out of state interests.
The top of the district also looms large, with the possibility of presidential candidates helping or hurting those down the ballot.
If he’s reelected, Walberg says he’d work to help businesses thrive.
“I look forward to going back and being a propositional party member, and moving this country in a direction makes sense, and provides the greatest freedom and opportunity for individuals,” insists Walberg.
Driskell says, if she’s chosen by voters, she’ll go to D.C. with Michigan families in mind.
“Because they do need a voice in Washington, and they don’t have it right now, and they’re really worried, and they want to see something different,” claims Driskell. “We really need somebody that really cares and listens and would be their voice.”
Recent polls indicate this is a close race, but as always, we’ll have to see what happens on Election Day.