Thursday, February 21, 2008

Detroits News Covers Van Hollen Campaigning with Gary Peters

Dems step up efforts to unseat Knollenberg

Democratic candidate Gary Peters, party leader join forces at local rally in bid to oust GOP veteran.

Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau

FARMINGTON HILLS -- Democrats on Wednesday previewed their line of attack in what promises to be one of the nation's hottest congressional races, when a top party campaign official came to Oakland County promoting Gary Peters' bid to unseat veteran Rep. Joe Knollenberg.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, stopped with Peters at a Pipefitters & Steamfitters Local 636 to rally organized labor support before attending a Peters' fundraiser later in the day. Van Hollen, whose job is to expand Democrats' narrow House majority, said the combination of a changing Oakland County district and Knollenberg's support of President Bush make the seat ripe for a takeover.

"If you look at the political constituency here, it's one we think is very up for change," Van Hollen said. The fact that Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, won a narrow 2006 victory over a relatively unknown and underfunded challenger, and Democratic polling showing Knollenberg with a low approval rating, "make it pretty clear that there's a huge amount of discontent with the incumbent," Van Hollen said.

The DCCC heavily recruited Peters, the former state lottery commissioner, to challenge Knollenberg, despite the fact that the 2006 challenger, Nancy Skinner, is running again this year. Skinner held Knollenberg to just 52 percent of the vote despite having almost no name recognition when the race began.

In addition to Van Hollen, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, has traveled to Michigan to help Peters raise money, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has a spring visit planned. The DCCC's aid means fundraising assistance and the possibility of independent advertising in support of Peters as the election nears.

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