While former Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell believes she’s gaining ground on incumbent Tim Walberg in the race for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, the congressman’s director of communications said she should worry about surviving the Democratic primary.
Even before Democrat Conor Lamb’s upset victory over Republican Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania district that President Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016, Driskell boasted of her campaign’s momentum.
Driskell’s Tweet pointed followers to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics “Crystal Ball” page, where writer Kyle Kondick downgraded Walberg’s hold on the conservative-leaning district from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican.”
After Lamb’s victory over Saccone in a special election where Republicans should have been helped by visits from President Trump and from the recently announced steel tariffs, talk of a “blue wave” in 2018 is gaining momentum.
Driskell said the results were encouraging. In 2016, Donald Trump cruised to victory in Michigan’s seventh district. He received 55.7 percent of the vote while Hlilary Clinton won 38.7 percent of the vote.
“It shows Democrats can win in a Trump-dominated district,” Driskell said.
But more than that, Driskell said, Lamb’s victory reflects what she’s hearing when talking to people in the district.
“He talked about local issues, about investing in infrastructure and good-paying jobs in our communities,” Driskell said. “A lot of people voted for Donald Trump because of the promises he made. He campaigned on bigger and better health care. Has that happened? No. People worry about these things.”
Driskell said her challenge is to improve her name recognition in the district and to make Walberg own his voting record.
“He’s taken bad votes on health care and tax reform,” she said.
The Saline Post reached out to Walberg’s camp for comment. Walberg’s communication director Dan Kotman didn’t seem concerned by talk of a “blue wave” or by any ground Driskell might be gaining. Instead, Kotman said, Driskell should worry about her primary challenger, Steve Friday, of Dexter.
“You might not be aware, but another Democratic candidate joined the race. So this seems a bit premature considering she'll be facing a primary, which is not surprising given the fact in the last election she spent millions of dollars, ran a lackluster campaign, and lost by 15 points. Her fellow Democrats are already abandoning her,” Kotman said. “As for Congressman Walberg, he will continue to do what he has always done: Work tirelessly on behalf of his constituents to tackle the opioid crisis, strengthen skills-based education, create more jobs with better pay, and grow a healthy economy for everyone.”