Retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek is throwing his support behind state Sen. Tom Casperson to succeed him in Congress, just as Casperson is getting a challenger in the Republican primary against Benishek’s former rival.
Former state Sen. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, on Thursday announced he’s joining the race for Benishek’s seat in the 1st Congressional District — the state’s largest encompassing most of northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
Allen, who lost a 2010 Republican primary to Benishek by 15 votes, signaled Thursday he would make Casperson’s past votes for raising taxes to pay for road repairs a contrast in the August GOP primary.
After eight successful veterans assistance fairs across the district, Escanaba can now be added to the list. These type of one on one assistance opportunities are designed to give veterans a more personal approach.
“What we do is bring together professionals in one place where local veterans can get access to the care that they have earned,” said Congressman Dan Benishek, “so there’s educational specialist here, PTSD specialists, people familiar with the VA as far as their health systems and disability claims. Anything that a veteran might need we’re offering here today.”
Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek announced his retirement from Congress in 2016 earlier this week, and the first poll in the race is already out.
According to MIRS, a subscription-based Michigan news outlet, former State Senators Jason Allen and Tom Casperson lead the pack in Michigan’s First Congressional District GOP Primary while political newcomer State Rep. Lee Chatfield is third with around 10%.
Click Here For Poll: results
State Sen. Tom Casperson: 26.7%
Former State Sen. Jason Allen 19.1%
Benishek had initially announced that he was going to be seeking a fourth term for the office he has held since 2011, despite a pledge to only serve three two-year terms.
Benishek offered the following statement on his decision:
“Serving the 1st district in Congress has been a privilege and an opportunity that I will be forever grateful for. I am proud to be able to represent the people of Northern Michigan.
Imagine the Washington agency tasked with helping our veterans telling someone to “go away and never come back.” Unbelievable, right? But that is what one Vietnam veteran was told by the VA in 1967. Nearly 50 years later, he came to our Veterans Assistance Fair at the Cheboygan National Guard Armory and finally received the help and support he deserved. At the same fair, we helped a 92-year-old World War II bomber pilot obtain a health card so after seven decades, he could finally have access to the benefits that he had earned.