The 11th Congressional District Republican Primary is one of the hottest primaries in southeast Michigan that people are watching to see who will get through to the general election in November. Most pundits believe it’s a two horse race between Lena Epstein and Rocky Raczkowski.
Questions continue online about the “real story” behind these candidates but we’ve dug deep and decided to share with you our findings.
In the end, we decided Rocky Raczkowski would be the strongest choice for Congress. He has the military, business and political experience needed to represent the voters of the 11th Congressional District. Beyond experience, no one doubts he’s a tireless worker and has held over five dozen (that’s 60) townhalls throughout the district directly answering questions of the voters. The other candidates have not. Rocky is well-versed in both domestic programs and foreign affairs and has the zest and zeal to serve the 11th Congressional District well. Additionally, Rocky has battled the left for many years on Fox 2 and WJR and is an able opponent when it comes to debate and rhetoric with a clear understanding of conservative principles and beliefs. He doesn’t just know what to say – he clearly understands the “why” behind our belief system. We need more of that in Congress. We also respect the fact that all of the candidates, except Rocky, have gone negative in their campaigning for office. He didn’t sink to their level. He focused on his own positive campaign message. We need more of that in politics too. Finally, his support of President Trump and serving as the Veterans for Michigan Chair for Trump was impressive and needed. Rocky will serve the 11th Congressional District well in Congress.
While some may find flaws in the fact that he’s run for office 3 times since his term in the Michigan House of Representatives, we found each of the other candidates have several liabilities to overcome as candidates should they get through the primary.
Lena Epstein has good intentions and is, no doubt, a strong advocate for Republicans in Michigan. However, Lena doesn’t live in the 11th Congressional District. She switched from running for the U.S. Senate to U.S. Congress because she thought it would be an easier path to elected office. Her campaign is bankrolled by her parents company and we have found multiple interviews online where she just doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of the issues yet. It’s like she’s reading from a script or memorized the same 3 lines for each issue. It’s uncomfortable and annoying at times. Granted, she’s young and has a bright future ahead of her but she needs some seasoning and education on the issues. Most troubling, however, is her time on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board where she missed meetings 87 percent of the time. She needs time to get a solid narrative of serving without absences on something notable before becoming the standard bearer for Republicans in the 11th District for Congress. She may very well ably serve the residents of Michigan in Congress or the U.S. Senate one day – but this shouldn’t be the year it happens.
Kerry Bentivolio is another story. While he touts his conservative principles while serving as the accidental Congressman for a short time, people often forget why he wasn’t re-elected. Here you have a candidate who wants to talk about fiscal responsibility but has multiple bankruptcies on record. While his peers often found him aloof and ‘just plain weird’ as one insider told us, this reindeer farmer and Santa Claus impersonator was actually kicked out of the White House Christmas party. Bentivolio has run for office multiple times and has done so as a Libertarian and Independent as well as a Republican. Lots of us have conservative principles but that doesn’t mean we possess the skillset, the knowledge, the charisma or the character to represent over 700,000 people in Congress. As they say in the movie ‘The Fly’ – “be afraid, be very afraid.”
Klint Kesto is a pretty good guy. But the problem with Kesto is two-fold. Number one – he’s taken some really bad votes from a conservative point of view. He voted for the God-awful gas tax and medicaid expansion (or effectively Obamacare) in Michigan. He’s in the pocket of the marijuana industry and was rated by the Michigan Campaign Finance network in 2016 as the second highest beneficiary of lobbyists in being wined and dined. Not a good look for THAT to be the face of Republicans in the 11th District.
Finally, Mike Kowall is another one who has good intentions and we really like Mike as a person. However, he has been excoriated by conservatives in his own district for his voting record while in the Senate. From the gas tax to medicaid expansion to voting for the increase to vehicle registration taxes to voting for the ill-fated Senate Capitol view building. Kowall is a competent legislator and a great politician but he just doesn’t represent the conservative values of the 11th Congressional District Republican electorate.