Cannon to run against Benishek

LANSING (AP) – A former commander at Guantanamo Bay who later led U.S. detainee operations in Iraq is running for a northern Michigan congressional seat that was one of the country’s most hotly contested campaigns in 2012.

Democrat Jerry Cannon on Tuesday announced his campaign for the 1st District seat held by second-term Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, a Crystal Falls surgeon who retained his job by fewer than 1,900 votes last November.

Cannon, during visits to Traverse City and Marquette, pointed to his background in law enforcement and the military.

“People have counted on me to step up, serve our community and protect our way of life in northern Michigan. I’m ready to answer that call again,” he said in a statement. “I’m frustrated. Politicians in Washington, like our congressman, have forgotten why they were sent there – to create jobs and work for the middle class.”

Cannon, 65, was a Marine in Vietnam. While working as a police officer and later as Kalkaska County sheriff, he served in the Michigan Army National Guard from 1977 until retiring as a major general in 2012. He was commander of the Joint Detention Operations Group in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In Iraq, he helped transfer control of the last major U.S.-run prison camp to the Iraqi government.

“Dr. Benishek welcomes Jerry Cannon to the race and is looking forward to comparing ideas on how to create jobs in northern Michigan and give our children a better future,” Benishek spokesman Kyle Bonini said. “Hopefully Mr. Cannon’s proposals will reflect the values of northern Michigan and not those of his political party leaders and special interest groups in Washington.”

Benishek was a political newcomer when he won election in 2010 to succeed former Rep. Bart Stupak, a Democrat who retired after serving 18 years. In a rematch with challenger Gary McDowell in 2012, a presidential election year, Benishek won 48.1 percent of the vote compared to McDowell’s 47.5 percent.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week launched a radio ad against Benishek and 17 other House Republicans who are on a five-week summer recess.