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5th District candidates disagree on bipartisanship and other issues during debate

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Two congressional candidates agreed on the need for more bipartisanship in Washington during a debate today in Flint.

They just disagreed as to who’s at fault for the lack of bipartisanship now.

Republican Allen Hardwick is challenging incumbent Fifth District CongressmanDan Kildee. They faced off during a midday debate before the West Flint Business Association.

Hardwick says creating bipartisanship is the biggest challenge facing Congress. He blames the president for the current lack of bipartisanship.

“I think it’s been the greatest challenge that’s been facing this administration the last six years,” says Hardwick.

Allen Hardwick, Republican candidate in Michigan's 5th congressional district

Meanwhile, Democrat Kildee points the finger at Republican leaders. The first-term congressman says House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence that a majority of the House Republican caucus agrees before legislation can move forward is a big part of the partisan stalemate in Washington.

“It takes more than just the administration to be bipartisan,” says Kildee.

Despite news today that Michigan’s unemployment rate continues to fall, Kildee and Hardwick say much more needs to be done to revive Michigan’s economy.

Kildee told local business leaders that policies are needed to protect and grow manufacturing jobs. Kildee says it’s important that the U.S. be more aggressive in foreign trade deals.  

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)

“Michigan is best positioned if we reclaim that manufacturing heritage,” says Kildee. He blames the NAFTA trade pact, and similar trade deals, for much of the loss of America’s manufacturing base. 

But Republican challenger Hardwick, who owns a computer repair business, says the focus should be on job creators. He says instead of trying to reclaim manufacturing jobs that have been lost, the focus should be on better educating young people for the skilled jobs that will be needed in the future.

“Make it profitable to do business in Michigan. I think that’s going to be the best way to go,” says Hardwick. 

Hardwick is worried that a push to increase government regulations on hydraulic fracturing – or "fracking" – will hurt Michigan’s growing oil and natural gas industry.

“Fracking is never shown to have any detrimental effects,” says Hardwick, though he says he would support “sensible regulation” of fracking.

Dan Kildee says regulations are needed that would require oil and gas companies to disclose what chemicals their fracking operations are using. Kildee says that would reduce the threat from fracking to the Great Lakes.

“Everything we put into our soil,” says Kildee, “ultimately has an effect on the quality of the Great Lakes.”

Fifth District voters will have a third choice on the Nov. 4 ballot.  Libertarian Harold Jones is also running.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.