With her announcement Wednesday to run again in 2018, Driskell, a former mayor of Saline and two-term member of the Michigan House of Representatives, is the first Democrat to enter the race.
“The economies in our towns need to be supported, so that everyone can make a living in the town they grew up in,” Driskell said in comments handed out by campaign staff. “No one should have to move to find work with all of the possibilities here at home for new and revitalized business.”
Driskell hammered Walberg for voting in favor of the House Republicans’ health care bill passed in May, saying the legislation would raise premiums for the the predominantly blue-collar constituents in the district.
And she pitched the district’s industrial workers on revamping the economy, saying Michiganians “are known throughout the world for building and innovating, in shops large and small” and that “now is the time to build on these efforts.”
Walberg took a shot at Driskell through campaign spokesman Joe Wicks.
“Voters already rejected Gretchen Driskell because she lied repeatedly on her resume, couldn’t pass any bills as a legislator and now she starts her campaign in debt,” Wicks said in a statement said, alluding to a time Driskell referred to herself as a real estate broker even though she was a real estate agent who did not have a broker’s license.
Driskell has previously called Walberg’s attacks on the issue a “diversion” and has said that in the real estate world the terms “agent” and “broker” are interchangeable.
The 7th District includes many working-class white voters Donald Trump tailored his 2016 presidential campaign messaging to when he promised a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing.
Trump carried the district over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 17 points in November, per calculations by Daily Kos Elections. This, only four years after Republican Mitt Romney won it by just 4 points over President Barack Obama.
Walberg first won his seat in 2006, under different district lines, defeating Democrat Sharon Renier by 4 points in a hotly contested race. He lost it in 2008 to Democrat Mark Schauer and reclaimed it two years later. The district was made more Republican under a new map adopted during redistricting after the 2010 census.
His share of the vote has climbed each cycle since then, from 50 percent in 2010 to 55 percent last year.