ESCANABA - Democrat Gary McDowell continues his campaign for Michigan's 1st Congressional District seat, meeting with people throughout the district to discuss their concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare.
McDowell is challenging incumbent Republican Dan Benishek for the seat. During a visit to the Daily Press Friday, McDowell said his campaign has been going very well.
"We're getting great support across the district," said McDowell. "Thousands of people are coming forward, contributing to our campaign, believe in it and believe in what we're doing."
Currently he's touring Northern Michigan as part of his "Save Our Retirement" Tour, where he's been listening to concerns of the people over the future of Medicare and Social Security.
"We made a promise to our seniors that you invest in Medicare your entire life, and when you retire, it'll be there to help you with your health care costs," he said. "My opponent, Dan Benishek, voted on one of his very first votes ... to end Medicare in order to give more tax cuts to the wealthiest in this country."
McDowell said the tour has been well received so far. Recently the tour swung through Sault Ste. Marie, with stops planned for Traverse City and Marquette in the coming weeks. This weekend he heads to the western U.P.
"People are saying they feel like there's nobody representing Northern Michigan," he said. "The Democrats just don't seem to understand that we have to cut spending, and Republicans, like my opponent Dan Benishek, are just not looking out for ordinary people."
McDowell was recently listed in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's (DCCC) Red to Blue program. Red to Blue highlights some of the top Democratic campaigns across the country and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support - according to the DCCC website.
"What they do is look across the country and they look at the most competitive races," he explained. "This one here is very competitive for a number of reasons. It's a swing district; it can go either way."
In fact, the most recent poll, conducted in January, by the independent Public Policy Polling showed McDowell leading Benishek by five points in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up, 46 to 41 percent. Benishek's approval rating in the poll sat at 32 percent.
McDowell attributes this number to the way Benishek has voted on the issues of Medicare and Social Security, among others.
"My opponent Dan Benishek made the statement that Social Security is a disaster, we need to do away with it, privatize it, turn it over to the Wall Street crowd. That's just plain wrong," he said.
"He's voted to end Essential Air Service - commercial air flights into our airports like right here in Escanaba - which is critical for Northern Michigan because of our reliance on air service and to move goods, services, business in and out," he added.
McDowell said if he's elected, some key areas he would look at for improving the job situation and economy across the district would be in natural resources.
"We have great opportunities in mining, forestry, alternative energy," he said. "We also have to look at these unfair trade agreements that we all know costs Michigan thousands of jobs that have been moved offshore. Congressman Benishek has come out and supported these fair trade deals. He actually went as far as to say they were good for Northern Michigan."
According to McDowell, freeing up credit through local banks is also an important issue for small businesses.
"Being a small businessman myself, I understand the needs of small business," said McDowell. "Small business is vital to Northern Michigan. That's where our job creation's going to be."