Politician who kept budget vow now tries to keep job
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Shortly after newly elected Rep. Dan Benishek arrived in Washington, staffers raised a banner that proclaimed to visitors in his Capitol Hill suite: "If you are here to ask for more money, you're in the wrong office!"
The message was fitting for a tea party favorite who had railed against federal spending and a "nanny-state mentality" during the 2010 campaign that led to a Republican takeover of the House. But it was something new for his constituents in northern Michigan, a largely rural area where a spirit of self-reliance coexists with the reality that government – popular or not – is a crucial economic player.
For decades, Michigan's 1st Congressional District elected representatives who sided with conservatives on social issues like abortion while energetically seeking federal dollars for local projects – most recently Bart Stupak, a Democrat who retired after nine terms.
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