East Lansing, MI –
Lance Enderle knows he has an uphill battle. He's running as the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat in the 8th district.
The incumbent, Mike Rogers, is a popular and well-supported Republican who has held the seat since 2000. The New York Times rates Rogers with a 100 percent chance of winning.
Enderle stepped in to challenge Rogers after the winner of the Democratic primary dropped out. He says "somebody had to do it."
When Lance Enderle visited a political science class at Lansing Community College, he reminded them that the right to vote is also a responsibility, especially if you're unhappy with government.
That's Enderle's style, meeting face to face with voters and trying to run his campaign as close to the ground as he can.
He'll only take donations from individuals, not from Political Action Committees or special interests, because he believes money corrupts politicians. And even though he's way behind Mike Rogers in fund raising, he returned a campaign check because it came from a PAC.
"It's just easier not to take any instead of deciding who's good and who's bad," Enderle says. "It's all tainted the system. A lot of organizations that are good organizations really don't have the money and the only way it's going to stop is when we start electing people that will start doing the right things instead of what special interests dictate them to do."
Enderle is a former high school teacher and football coach. He lives in East Lansing and is studying at Michigan State University for a masters degree in special education. He ran for office only once before for the state house in 1998.
On his website, Enderle has posted a couple of homemade commercials. One shows his dog, named Dude, asking for support. But you'll only see these ads on the internet. Even if he could afford to, Enderle says he won't run ads on TV.
"I think that's one of the saddest things about our political system, taking up good TV time to run a slander ad," says Enderle. "I've never seen an ad that tells me something positive that they've done or going to do, it's always beating somebody up."
Political analyst Craig Ruff with Public Sector Consultants in Lansing believes Enderle's purely grass roots style is costing him in name recognition.
"Unfortunately, exposure goes hand in hand with money and the less money you have, the less credible your candidacy is," says Ruff.
Republican Mike Rogers, who is seeking his sixth term, is actively campaigning, but so far hasn't run any paid advertising either.
"And he probably is in a great position to do so, if he felt he was in any trouble," adds Ruff. "The fact that he's not on TV and radio suggests that he and his campaign, through polling, have concluded this is not a race worth spending money on."
While candidates in other districts are clogging up the airwaves with commercials, both men in this race remain relatively low key. But things could heat up pretty quickly after November 2nd. Because Michigan has lost population over the past ten years, the state is poised to loose a seat in congress. And if the state legislature decides to carve up the 8th district, there may be no district left for either Rogers or Enderle to represent.
Election 2010 - WKAR
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