[This falls into the solid rumor category. Not gold-plated, but attested to by a reliable person in a position to know this. In other words, a good bit more believable than anything printed by the New York Times that is not specifically a box score. YMMV.]
Tea Party conservative Dan Benishek is looking like the guy. A very well-placed birdie in the Michigan GOP has informed me that the state party has asked well-known union backer Jason Allen to drop out of the race, clearing the field for an expected Benishek victory in Michigan-1, a swing district mostly located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula currently held by odious (and retiring) Democrat Bart Stupak.
This is particularly interesting since current State Senator Allen was said to have been encouraged to run in the first place by that same state party. MI-GOP is notoriously squishy and union-friendly, and no doubt Benishek was not their cup of tea, then or now. Allen is an experienced politician and well-financed. One supposes he would benefit from union money and ground game as well.
My birdie suggests that Allen does not seem inclined to quit the race.
Why would they ask him to drop out?
It simply has to be internal polling. If you see other options, I’m open to hearing them. I was not given the secret minutes of state GOP meetings, so I can only guess. I see a couple of likely scenarios.
- Allen is getting killed in the polls, and they don’t want to spend any party money on him. It’s a swing district trending conservative, in a cycle where “slick city politician, carpetbagger, and union puppet” plays much less well than “surgeon, newcomer, yooper”.
- Benishek is shown to have a far better chance in the general election against the Democrat, but may have trouble getting past Allen in the primary.
- The state GOP has experienced a sudden surge of conservative religion. [OK I was kidding]
Actually, I have been told through other channels that Benishek has turned the hearts and minds of some of state party bigs, including a couple who were considering running against him:
- Former State Rep Tom Casperson, who ran against Stupak last time, considered running and changed his mind. He is now doing appearances with Benishek.
- Regional political figure Dennis Lennox was an early opponent, but has dropped out and now endorses Benishek. He’s entered the race for the state house instead.
So, we’ll see if Allen drops out. If so, then MI-1 will have a united GOP with Tea Party backing. It will have a heck of a candidate in Dan Benishek, born and bred yooper, local surgeon and committed conservative.
If Allen does not drop out, then it’s a bloody primary battle that Benishek also probably wins. The Democrat picture is still too cloudy to say whether a nasty Republican primary does fatal harm to the GOP candidate.