DETROIT — In early returns, Republican Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls is leading state Rep. Gary McDowell of Rudyard in the race to succeed veteran Democrat Bart Stupak in Congress.
With 31 percent of precincts reporting, Benishek has 52.6 percent of the vote to 39.2 percent for McDowell.
Benishek is a general surgeon and political novice who has tapped into the growing tea party movement and voter angst as part of his attempt to bring northern Michigan's 1st District into GOP control.
McDowell is a hay farmer and former UPS Inc. driver who spent considerable time during the campaign pushing back against what he called Benishek's extreme views.
Stupak announced in April that he wouldn't seek a 10th term in Washington.