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Michigan - 1st District

Incumbent -- Bart Stupak (D) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced April 9, 2010)

Leans Republican
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

This race is a top target for both parties. The district is complicated on a number of levels: Spanning 31 counties over the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, geography is extremely important. And in the mold of Stupak, the district has supported a candidate who is socially conservative but also willing to work with unions and oppose trade deals.

Democrats hope they've found that candidate in state Rep. Gary McDowell. McDowell was first elected to the state House in 2004 and is against abortion.

Republicans had a harder time settling on a candidate. Surgeon Dan Benishek finished just one vote ahead of state Sen. Jason Allen on election night and was 15 votes ahead when the state certified results about two weeks later. Allen ultimately decided not to ask for what could have been a costly and time-consuming recount, allowing Benishek to focus on the general election.

Both campaign committees and a number of outside groups have already aired ads in the district.

With one month to go, both parties seem to be pretty dug in here in terms of what they're willing to spend. This could end up being one of the more expensive races if that continues until the end.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Beginning along the Saginaw Bay shore, the 1st stretches 25,000 square miles from Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula to take in the entire Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Full of rolling, forested hills, the rural 1st encompasses 44 percent of Michigan's land mass, but does not contain a single city with more than 22,000 residents.

Tourism is a key economic engine in the 1st. Touching three of the Great Lakes, the 1st has more freshwater shoreline than any other district in the continental United States. Mackinac Island, known for its prohibition on cars, its Victorian-style lake houses and its fudge, is a popular destination. Isle Royale, the state's northernmost outpost, hosts wolves, elk and backpackers.

Self-proclaimed "Yoopers" from the U.P. are connected to the rest of the district in Northern Michigan only by the Mackinac Bridge. Isolated from the rest of their state, Yoopers tend to identify culturally with nearby Wisconsinites or Canadians. Logging is important here, but dwindling mining resources provide only modest incomes.

The district has suffered from recent national economic downturns, the continuing auto industry decline and steady population loss. Housing markets crashed in Lower Peninsula lakefront towns, established beach resort and second-home havens for residents of the state and visitors from across the upper Midwest.

There is a strong current of GOP support and social conservatism in the 1st, particularly with regard to gun rights.

Major Industry

Tourism, logging, mining, auto parts


Marquette, 21,355; Sault Ste. Marie, 14,144


The National Ski Hall of Fame is in Ishpeming.




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