Democrats, Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans, Republicans — December 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Jocelyn Benson wisely declines to run in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District


Like many Democrats, I’m all for seeing Benson run for office. But not running for this one is a smart move.

It’s been a topic of great speculation in the last month or so — especially after meetings with high-level Democrats in Washington — but Jocelyn Benson announced on Tuesday that she will not be running for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District in 2014.

The interim dean of Wayne State University law school and a 2010 candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, Benson made the announcement in an email to faculty, according to the Detroit News:

While I am touched by the efforts of people in the 11th congressional district to encourage me to represent them in Washington, my priority is leading the law school as interim dean. For that reason, I want you to know that I will not be a candidate for Congress in 2014. We have so much to take pride in here at Wayne Law, and I am honored to be part of this vibrant community of students, faculty, staff and alumni. I am committed to working with you to ensure we are providing a world-class education to our students and continuing our longstanding tradition of producing meaningful and influential legal scholarship.

Although many Democrats were hoping to see Benson run for the seat currently held by Republican Kerry Bentivolio, this development is good news for a few reasons.

First, this clears the field for Democrat Bobby McKenzie, who has already launched his campaign for the seat. All due respect to Dr. Anil Kumar, a fine Democrat who has also launched his campaign, McKenzie has the clout and the support of major Democrats necessary to win the Democratic primary. Eliminating a potentially close primary challenge against Benson means McKenzie can focus on what matters most: beating the Republican candidate.

Although Rep. Bentivolio has been bucking for attention lately with his usual extremist antics, he’s unlikely to change his status as the “accidental Congressman.” With a much more plentiful campaign war chest to date, challenger and foreclosure attorney David Trott is favored to win the Republican primary. McKenzie is already reminding voters how badly Trott has hurt Michiganders by profiting on their misery during the housing market meltdown and subsequent foreclosure frenzy.

Many Democrats were also concerned that Benson was “too liberal” to win in the 11th Congressional District. McKenzie has already said he’d take a moderate, “no labels” approach to addressing key issues facing Michigan, such as the economy. That may win over some Republicans who want solutions for working Michiganders instead of the Tea Party rhetoric they’ve been fed by Rep. Bentivolio.

There’s one other silver lining in Benson’s decision not to run for Congress: She hasn’t said whether or not she might run for another office. Although she lost in 2010, she’d make one heck of a great Michigan Secretary of State. Here’s hoping she throws her hat into the ring for that — or any office of her choosing — as soon as possible. Preferably in 2014.

[Photo credit: Anne Savage | Anne Savage Photography.]