E&E news reports:
Paul Clements (D) is the furthest thing from a household name, but that’s not stopping the college professor from trying to unseat one of the most powerful members of Congress.
In fact, Clements, a political scientist at Western Michigan University, is the earliest candidate in the state’s history to announce his intention to oust the deeply entrenched and wealthy 26-year House veteran Fred Upton (R), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, from Michigan’s 6th District. And he’s planning to use the issue of climate change as a cornerstone of his campaign.
Idealistic? Some analysts think so.
“It would require a tidal wave election and every possible contention to go correct for a Democratic challenger for Upton to begin to be considered vulnerable,” said Jake Davison, president of the Lansing-based political consulting firm Advantage Associates, which serves GOP clients.
Upton has held a political vice grip on the Republican-leaning district for years and last year took almost 55 percent of the vote against Democrat Mike O’Brien. Clements, in comparison, doesn’t have Upton’s deep pockets or well-sourced political campaign. According to the Federal Election Commission, Upton had $720,000 on hand as of June 30, whereas Clements had $47,000.
Some political wonks in the state haven’t even heard of the professor.
But Clements, 52, says Upton’s increasing extremism on issues like climate change makes him vulnerable. He accuses the congressman of pandering to donors and special interests and says the district — made up of six counties straddling the shores of Lake Michigan on the border with Indiana — is ready for something new.
“It was Upton’s turnaround on climate change that pushed me into running for this,” Clements said. “He used to say we needed to regulate greenhouse gases, but it seems to get promoted to the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, you have to cut a deal.”