For years, Fred Upton (R-MI) has been able to work his corner of Michigan with ease, gaining election to the US House of Representatives in 1986 and maintaining a solid hold on his seat. But his new stature as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee has also brought brand new attention from national interest groups.
In particular, according to a Politico report, it has brought attention from environmental groups, who are particularly concerned about the attempts by Upton and other Republicans on the committee to cut into the Clear Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.
To that end, the groups are making ample use of the media – challenging Upton over television, on the air, on billboards and in newspapers.
The question on the ground in Upton’s 6th District is how long this media campaign can be sustained. There is an even more important consideration – whether or not there is anybody the Democrats can put up for election that will be able to put up a viable battle against him.
It figures to be a difficult task even if Upton’s district is affected when new lines are drawn up. There is a possibility that if the lines are drawn a certain way it will bring more Democratic voters, and even a potential viable challenger in the person of former US Rep Mark Schauer (D-MI) into the mix – but new lines could just as easily strengthen Upton’s already strong hand, and with Republicans in control of the state government, he might be in line for a helping hand.
Former E&C chair Joe Barton (R-TX) noted that the sudden national attention comes with the territory. Upton acknowledges that fact, and doesn’t seem to be too concerned, telling Politico, “These attacks come with the territory, and I have no intention of allowing these well-funded groups to bully … Congress out of doing the right thing.”