MARQUETTE - U.S. House Speaker John Boehner made a swing through the Upper Peninsula this week - including stops in Marquette and lunch at Hereford and Hops in Escanaba - while vacationing and supporting U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls.
Riding in a tour bus, Boehner headed north from downstate after attending a private fundraiser for Benishek in Harbor Springs.
"The speaker is traveling this month in support of House Republicans who are working to advance solutions to help create jobs, control Washington spending and make America a nation of builders again," said Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz.
Boehner arrived in St. Ignace Monday and headed west, stopping for lunch at Hereford and Hops Restaurant and Brewpub in Escanaba. Restaurant owner and manager Rebecca Moody said Boehner had a sandwich at the restaurant and ordered a large takeout order for his staff.
"It was a very big thrill for us," Moody said.
Moody said Michigan State Police had recommended the restaurant to the Ohio Republican. The troopers had recently had an event at the restaurant.
"I guess maybe we were fresh in their minds," Moody said.
Moody said there may have been other reasons Boehner selected the Delta County eatery. She said politically Boehner would be on friendly territory at the restaurant.
"The governor comes here quite often whenever he's in the area," Moody said.
Moody said the restaurant staff also adheres to a "hands-off" policy, not pestering important guests for autographs, photographs or other requests, which dignitaries seem to appreciate.
Before Boehner left Hereford and Hops, a member of his security team took one photo of the speaker posed with the restaurant's bartender, Scott Mallard, and brewer, Mike Sattem.
Moody said Boehner told staff at the restaurant he was in the area vacationing.
Boehner continued to Iron Mountain where he stayed Monday at the Pine Mountain Lodge. He did some fishing in the area.
Benishek, who was born in Iron River and now lives in Crystal Falls, has ties to Iron Mountain. He maintained a private practice as a general surgeon in the U.P. since 1983. For two decades, Benishek worked part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center in Iron Mountain.
On Tuesday, Boehner made a brief trip to Marquette before heading into Wisconsin through Menominee later in the day. In Marquette, Boehner went to the Lagniappe Restaurant and took a ride around Presque Isle Park.
"Dr. Benishek is sure that Speaker Boehner enjoyed his time in Upper Michigan and received a very warm welcome from every Yooper he met during his visit," said Benishek communications director Kyle Bonini. "Speaker Boehner's pragmatic and commonsense leadership reflects exactly the kind of values that are found in the citizens of northern Michigan."
The Michigan Democratic Party speculated Boehner "likely came to discuss his flawed priorities with Congressman Benishek: ending the Medicare guarantee for the middle class and giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas."
In a written statement, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson said, "It should be no surprise that Speaker John Boehner would pay a secret visit to Congressman Dan Benishek, since Congressman Benishek has embraced Washington - and all the wrong priorities for northern Michigan."