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Michigan - 5th District

Incumbent -- Dale E. Kildee (D) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced July 15, 2011)

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key

CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

A thriving blue-collar tradition in the 5th has given way to Rust Belt deterioration and a workforce exodus. The vulnerable U.S. auto industry remains key to any economic stability here. The 5th's other staple is agriculture -- in the northeastern part of the district that stretches across Tuscola County on Michigan's "Thumb" to Saginaw Bay, small towns rely on family-owned farms and the sugar beet industry.

A recent rebound in General Motors sales has led to increased production at its Flint truck plant, and engines for the Chevy Volt are built in another plant in the city while the auto parts manufacturing sector draws suppliers and distributors to the 5th. The auto industry in Flint and Saginaw, the district's most populous cities, at one time employed well more than 100,000 people, but years of widespread layoffs drained the population. Flint has lost 18 percent of its residents since 2000 and is no longer one of the state's five most-populous cities. Municipal budget shortfalls in Flint have made it difficult for the local government to provide public services. Vacant homes in crumbling neighborhoods illustrate the distress in some residential areas of Saginaw.

Despite new factory jobs, local officials hope to move away from the region's manufacturing past and develop education and health care hubs -- Flint hosts a University of Michigan campus and engineering-focused Kettering University, and the aging population has required expansions to local hospitals.

The 5th's blue-collar voters adhere to fiscal populism and social conservatism, and they tend to identify strongly with the Democratic Party. Genesee County (Flint), which accounts for two-thirds of the district's population and is one-fifth black, is strongly influenced by the United Auto Workers union. Genesee gave Barack Obama 66 percent of its presidential vote in 2008 and was one of only four counties statewide to support Democrat Virg Bernero in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Major Industry

Auto parts manufacturing, agriculture, sugar processing, health care

Cities

Flint, 102,434; Saginaw, 51,508; Bay City, 34,932; Burton, 29,999

Notable

Michael Moore's 1989 documentary "Roger & Me" chronicled the impact of GM's layoffs in the 1980s on Flint.

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