DETROIT (AP) - Republican Dan Benishek secured a second term in Congress Wednesday, defeating Democratic challenger Gary McDowell in an extremely close contest that was separated by only a few dozen votes even the morning after the election.
For the second time in two years, the tea party-backed Benishek defeated McDowell in a race that wasn't decided until some 18 hours after polls closed.
The election for the seat representing northern Michigan and all of the Upper Peninsula was among the last in the state to be called. However, McDowell was waiting for a board of canvassers to count all ballots before conceding the race.
"I am so proud of the grass-roots campaign we built to fight for hard-working middle-class families in northern Michigan," he said. "We owe it to them and our overseas military to let the process continue and make sure that all absentee and provisional ballots are counted."
McDowell, a former state lawmaker from Rudyard, lost to Benishek in a close 2010 race to fill the seat vacated when longtime Democratic incumbent Bart Stupak stepped down.
Benishek, a Crystal Falls physician, won the 2010 race with tea party support.
After his re-election, Benishek said his focus will be on jobs.
"Michigan's 1st District voted for jobs, the American dream and limited government, but just because the election is over does not mean our job is done," he said. "The hardest part is yet to come."