SHARE

Con­gressman Tim Walberg (R. — Mich.) keeps a bottle of air freshener in his Wash­ington, D.C., office. It sits on the table to the left of his desk.

Sitting on a chair in front of that table in mid-August, Walberg stood up, walked to the table, and returned with the blue and white bottle of air-deodorizer. The bottle’s label reads “Good Sense.”

The bottle is from Hillsdale Academy, where Walberg said he – with per­mission – swiped the bottle in 2008 before speaking at the school’s com­mencement cer­emony.

“Good Sense,” he said. “It wasn’t long before I thought ‘Hey, is that why Hillsdale College is the way it is? Because they spray good sense all over the place?’”

He laughed.

“I’m trying to spray good sense around the capital here.”

Walberg is the con­gressman from Michigan’s 7th dis­trict, which makes him the con­gressman of Hillsdale College. He is cur­rently running for re-election to his third term in the U.S. House against Democrat lawyer Kurt Haskell.

Born and raised in south-central Chicago, Walberg, 61, served as a pastor for 10 years in two churches before entering pol­itics. In southern Michigan at his second church, he became heavily involved with his county’s anti-abortion movement. Abortion is a “non-nego­tiable” issue for Walberg.

Encouraged to run against the local incumbent state con­gressman, Walberg beat him and in 1984 entered the Michigan House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where he would serve for the next 16 years. He was term-limited from running in 1999.

“Thank­fully,” he said in 2012.

Here began a private sector stint for Walberg. For several years, he worked at an edu­cation think-tank before joining the Moody Bible Institute. He worked there as a division manager for five-and-a-half years.

Walberg’s first try for the House came in 2003, but he, with five other Repub­licans, lost in the primary to mod­erate Joe Schwarz. Walberg ran again in 2005, beat Schwarz in the primary, and went on to win the seat with 49.93 percent of the vote.

In his first year in office, Walberg authored leg­is­lation that would make the 2001 tax cuts, com­monly referred to as “the Bush tax cuts,” per­manent. The bill was defeated down party lines.

A champion of limited gov­ernment, Walberg’s voting record holds an 83 percent con­ser­v­ative rating by Her­itage Action, eight points higher than Con­gressman Paul Ryan’s (R. — Wis.) score. The average House Repub­lican has a 66 percent rating.

Democrat Mark Schauer defeated Walberg in 2008, a year in which the Repub­licans lost 21 seats after losing control of the House in 2006. Walberg said he was “thrown out for hope and change.”

Over $4 million of spending for the race was reported to the Federal Election Com­mission. Walberg said the total spent on the race was closer to $10 million due to outside spending, making the 2008 7th Dis­trict race one of the most expensive House races in the country.

“I lost by two points, but it was still two points and that was enough to lose by,” Walberg said.

He decided to run again in 2010, chal­lenging Schauer for his old seat.

This time around, Walberg said about $15 million was spent on the race. Michigan’s 7th Dis­trict was again one of the most expensive races in the country.

Walberg won his seat back with 50 percent of the vote to Schauer’s 45 percent.

“[The voters] found out that my opponent voted the same way that Obama and Speaker Pelosi would have voted,” Walberg said, “and they decided they didn’t like that.”

The state leg­is­lature redrew the 7th dis­trict borders in 2011, making it slightly more favorable to the GOP.

The issues of the 2012 election, Walberg said, are unem­ployment and the economy and then the repeal of Oba­macare. Besides ensuring a “level playing field” for busi­nesses, Walberg said the best gov­ernment can do to foster eco­nomic growth is promote the Con­sti­tution and “get out of the way.”

“If I can promote the Con­sti­tution,” he said, “moving back as much as we can and lim­iting what the federal gov­ernment man­dates from the states and the local com­mu­nities, I think I will have pro­moted eco­nomic growth, not only for the 7th dis­trict but for the state of Michigan.”

Walberg recently intro­duced a bill similar to the one he intro­duced in his first term, cutting taxes and making the Bush tax cuts per­manent. The bill cur­rently sits in com­mittee.

Com­pared to the last few, the 2012 race has been pedes­trian. The cam­paign of Kurt Haskell, the Demo­c­ratic chal­lenger, has spent just more than $50,000 according to the FEC, com­pared to Walberg’s $780,000.

Walberg said it is strange to not be “embroiled in a bare-knuckle, brass knuckle fight” for the 7th dis­trict seat.

“But we’re not going to take it for granted,” he said.