By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek will wrap up his "32 Counties in 32 Days" tour by election day and says jobs and the economy are top priority for his campaign and his constituents.
"It's going great. With the "32 Counties in 32 Days" tour, I get to visit every county in the district, and I am well on the way to completing that tour," Benishek said on Wednesday from Traverse City.
Benishek, representative for Michigan's 1st District, headed to Gaylord for a forum with high school students Wednesday afternoon, and had held a forum in Alpena Tuesday night.
In talking to seniors, veterans and small business owners, Benishek said jobs and the economy are the most important issues.
"Right now, people in small businesses are not complaining about finding customers, but the difficulty in dealing with the government's excessive regulations to their business and are concerned about tax rates," Benishek said. "Mr. Obama wants to raise taxes on small businesses."
Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, added Obama promised he would lower health care costs, but in the last two years, the cost of health care is up $2,500 per family.
"It's tough for employers to provide health care for employees," he said.
Benishek also said he is the only representative from the U.P. on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
He said with transportation and veterans having a difficult time getting access to the care they need, he is continuing to work on that issue with veterans.
"The best part of being in Congress is I am proud to help out veterans," he said.
Benishek believes he will win the race for Congress against Gary McDowell.
"I think I will win, but I don't know by how much. This is one of the top races in the country," he said. "There has been a lot of outsiders coming in trying to influence the election. Gary McDowell's record is pretty clear."
McDowell of Rudyard, a former state representative, is the Democratic candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot for the 1st District.
"Grassroots supporters from northern Michigan and across the state are sending a message that no one in Washington is paying attention to jobs and our economy, and it is time to send a regular working person and some common-sense to Washington," McDowell said in a press release about his campaign. "No one in Washington is looking out for northern Michigan. Some Democrats aren't serious about cutting spending and it seems like Republicans don't care about regular people who work for a living."
Benishek has been endorsed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
"It's been a privilege to serve in the House," said Benishek who will be home from his tour on election day.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.