Tribal leader to run for Congress in Michigan’s first district
Derek Bailey, the 38 year-old chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, is expected to formally join the race for Congress in Michigan’s 1st District this weekend.
The Detroit News reports that Bailey will announce Saturday that he will face off against former State Rep. Gary McDowell of Rudyard in the Democratic primary.
Last year Dr. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) beat McDowell in the race to take over the seat that had been held since 1993 by Democrat Bart Stupak.
Bailey is a prominent public figure in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties, which are newly included in District 1 under the recently adopted redistricting plan.
Grand Traverse Band has more than 4,000 citizens and operates the Leelanau Sands Casino, the Turtle Creek Casino and the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
President Barack Obama appointed Bailey, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Grand Valley State University, to serve on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.
He says he serves as a bridge between the tribe and local, state and federal leaders. He makes decisions, he says, with the question: how will this impact seven generations to come?
“What we need now more than anything is a collaborative effort,” Bailey said. “It’s going to take all of us working together to take us forward and rebuild and grow our economy stronger.”
McDowell says he’s not concerned about the primary challenge and will focus his attention on Benishek, whom he says has continuously voted against the interests of the district.
Michigan’s 1st District is seen by Democrats as one that they may be able to win back in 2012.