Democrat Gretchen Driskell lost to Republican Tim Walberg by almost 15 percent in the 2016 race for the Michigan 7th congressional seat. In 2018, buoyed by a blue wave, Driskell cut that deficit to 7.6 percent.
Driskell this week announced her intentions to run again in 2020.
“Washington is fundamentally broken. After 27 years in office, Walberg is part of the problem. People are tired of the status quo - of working harder and falling further behind, of unaffordable health care and prescription drugs. They want safe streets and clean water,” Driskell said. “He (Walberg) has had decades to get things done and he hasn’t done delivered.”
Driskell said she can win in 2020. She said her two electoral losses won’t hurt her. In fact, she said, they will help. Driskell says she’s got more name recognition. And she thinks that will come into play during a 2020 election that is sure to have more turnout than the 2018 vote.
“In 2018, the turnout was lighter. Our vote total went up. Walberg’s went down. I think we can build on our momentum by talking to people about the issues that matter most,” Driskell said.
Affordable health care. Jobs. Prescription drugs.
Democratic Presidential candidates are battling over health care plans. Driskell said she believes in universal health coverage, but not necessarily government health insurance plans for everyone. Instead, she subscribes to what Pete Buttigieg called “Medicare for all who want it,” a plan that would allow Americans to keep private insurance plans.
Driskell said she’s talked to people who need real reform in prescription coverage.
“I talked to a woman who works 40 hours a week at a gas station. She can’t afford the inhaler she needs or the insulin she needs. She’s struggling with chronic health issues and she can’t afford medicine. That’s just wrong,” Driskell said. “The federal government has a role in solving these issues. And I’ll work with whoever wants to solve these issues.”
Driskell points to her 14 years as Saline’s mayor - a non-partisan position.
“We didn’t ask each other what party we were in. We worked together to balance the budget, solve problems and work for our community,” Driskell said. “We just got things done together.”
Driskell Saline’s first female mayor and Saline’s longest-serving mayor.
She left office at the end of 2012, after defeating incumbent Republican Mark Ouimet in the race for Michigan’s 52nd House District. She represented western Washtenaw County in Lansing for four years.
After two unsuccessful challenges of Walberg, Driskell didn’t immediately have plans for a third attempt. When she resumed her studies at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, where she’s working toward her master’s degree, Driskell changed her mind.
“We have big problems. The people of the seventh district are working hard. They deserve government that works hard to solve those issues,” Driskell said.
In 2016, Walberg outspent Driskell, $2.6 million to $2.5 million. In 2018, Driskell outraised Walberg, $2.7 million to $2.2 million, and outspent him, $2.7 million to $2.3 million.
Driskell said she plans to run a professional, top-tier campaign.
She continues to reside in Saline, where she raised two sons and a daughter.
Driskell, who once worked in commercial real estate, is a full-time student who makes her living with income from rental properties.
Walberg, a former pastor who resides in Tipton, served 15 years in the Michigan House of Representatives. In 2006, he defeated incumbent Republican Joe Schwartz in the primary and then won in the general. In 2008, Democrat Mark Schauer narrowly defeated Walberg in a competitive and costly race. Walberg defeated Schauer in 2010 and has held the seat ever since.