Democrats recruiting former GOP lawmaker to run in Michigan primary

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is recruiting former Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-Mich.) to run against Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Schwarz told The Hill on Tuesday afternoon.

“We talked and have had very pleasant conversations about it,” Schwarz said. “The DCCC is correctly looking for a candidate to run in the 7th district because there certainly would be a stark contrast between Congressman Walberg and a viable, credible Democratic candidate.”

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Schwarz is likely Democrats’ best chance of beating Walberg, especially because former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) said he won’t run in the newly redrawn Republican-leaning district. Schauer defeated Walberg in 2008, and then lost to him in a 2010 rematch.

“I do think I would be the strongest candidate to take him on,” Schwarz said.

This would not be the first time the two have faced each other. Schwarz won the seat in 2004 after defeating Walberg in a six-candidate GOP primary. Walberg won the rematch two years later, then narrowly won in the general election. He lost to Schauer in 2008 but came back to beat him in 2010.

Schwarz backed Schauer over Walberg in both elections but supported Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2010 campaign.

“I consider myself an independent,” he said. “I haven’t gone anywhere philosophically … I’m a fiscal conservative, someone who’s for a very strong military presence and someone who’s a social moderate.”

Schwarz said that he was “flattered” by the DCCC’s recruiting efforts and that he wants to see Walberg lose, saying he is “farther right by a significant amount” than most of the district’s voters.

But Schwarz sounded hesitant about another run for Congress, and pointed to a packed calendar that includes practicing medicine, teaching classes at the University of Michigan, serving as Snyder’s rail adviser and volunteering on various charitable boards.

“I’m interested in the race and I would like to see a good moderate candidate in the race, I just am not certain, for a bunch of reasons, that that is going to be me,” he said, before promising to make a decision “in the next few weeks.”

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