CHELSEA, Mich. (AP) — A former Democratic state lawmaker is running for the southern Michigan congressional seat now held by third-term Republican Rep. Tim Walberg.
Pam Byrnes of Lyndon Township near Chelsea on Thursday announced her 2014 candidacy for the seven-county 7th District that runs from the Lansing area south to the Indiana border. The GOP-leaning district has been represented by four different congressmen in the past decade after a series of bruising elections.
Byrnes, 66, served in the Michigan House from 2005 through 2010 before being term-limited. She said middle-class families are falling behind because Washington is broken.
Walberg "puts special interests and corporations ahead of middle-class Michigan families," she said. "I have a track record of working across the aisle to get things done and create opportunities to help middle-class families thrive."
Byrnes directed the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court before opening her own law practice. She recently led a joint institute for engineering students between the University of Michigan and a Chinese university.
Walberg, a former pastor and state House member from Tipton, won the seat in 2006, lost two years later to Mark Schauer and won it back from him in 2010.
State Republicans redrew the 7th District in 2011 to protect Walberg from a rematch with Schauer, who now is running for governor. The district is viewed as less of a battleground after redistricting. Walberg won by 10 percentage points over Democrat Kurt Haskell last year.
Walberg spokeswoman Sarah Kuziomko did not directly address Byrnes' criticism.
"Congressman Walberg is focused on building a healthy economy and working with colleagues to help hardworking taxpayers by making government live within its means, improving education and workforce training, stopping the IRS from abusing citizens, and repealing the government takeover of health care that is raising costs and hurting families," she said.
The 7th District includes Eaton, Jackson, Branch, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties and much of Washtenaw County outside of Ann Arbor.