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Michigan - 6th District

Incumbent -- Fred Upton (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
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

Forests, fertile soil and front-row seats to Lake Michigan in the state's southwestern corner make the 6th a prime spot for tourists in every season. Apples, blueberries and peaches grow in a fruit belt that extends north from St. Joseph and Benton Harbor through Van Buren County. The wooded shoreline north of the Indiana border boasts miles of sandy beaches where affluent Chicagoans have kept second homes. Local vineyards produce a strong crop of juice grapes, and area wineries account for a significant percentage of the state's wine grapes.

Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp., based in Benton Harbor, and orthopedic company Stryker, in Kalamazoo, make their headquarters in the 6th, although overall job losses in manufacturing have hurt the district. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has turned the district into a regional hub for the state's booming health care industry -- local officials have encouraged growth of pharmaceutical start-ups, which provide some jobs for the science-based workforce.

Education is another pillar of the local economy. Western Michigan University is home, at least for most of the year, to roughly 25,000 students. The "Kalamazoo Promise," a scholarship program aimed at supporting Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates by offering to sponsor up to 100 percent of tuition to attend an in-state public college, has attracted some new families to the city, helping prop up home values in the area.

The 6th's conservative Dutch heritage, white-collar corporate managers and rural conservatives have made it a Republican-leaning district in the past. The district's Democratic centers are in working-class Kalamazoo and predominately black Benton Harbor, balanced by conservative-leaning St. Joseph and Allegan counties. Democrat Barack Obama took 54 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote, but Republican Rick Snyder easily won every county here in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Major Industry

Manufacturing, agriculture, higher education, health care, tourism

Cities

Kalamazoo, 74,262; Portage, 46,292; Niles, 11,600; Sturgis, 10,994

Notable

The Berrien Springs courthouse, built in 1839 and now a museum, is the state's oldest courthouse; Colon, home to magic-trick manufacturers and an annual exposition, calls itself the "Magic Capital of the World."

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