By Olivia Damon
Local elections have a big influence on our state and national government. How could a well known politician help a local politician?
In June, Sen. Bernie Sanders sent out a fundraising email announcing his endorsement for Michigan Democrat and Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements for the 6th Congressional District. Sanders endorsed Clements mainly for Clements’ willingness to combat climate change.
Michigan’s 6th Congressional District consists of six counties in Southwest Michigan.
In the 2014 election, Upton got 55.9 percent of the vote, while Clements received 40.4 percent of the vote. Sanders won Michigan in the primary election.
The Republican incumbent, Fred Upton, says the endorsement won’t affect his campaign and message at all. The Clements’ campaign has been devoted and driven to get into Congress since its last run in 2014, when Clements lost to Upton. Upton has held the seat since 1993 after it was redistricted.
Clements was born in Dallas and has a B.A. from Harvard University in Social Science and a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University. He worked in the Peace Corps after college and was hired as an assistant professor at Western Michigan University in 1996 and eventually became a full professor in 2009. Sanders had a large following and influence among voters in the primary election. He brought forth and pushed issues such as environmentalism and lowering college tuition. When asked if there has been a shift in talking about climate change Western Michigan University psychology student Juan Sanchez said, “Yeah, they’ve definitely talked about it more, but there’s an element of denial.”
Clements and Sanders are politically very similar. They’re both progressives who want an economy to work for all and not just the upper class. This brings into question how much influence a politician running for the presidency has on voters for the local and congressional elections. “I think absolutely, everything and everyone has an element of influence,” Sanchez said.
Some of Clements policies deal with growing Southwest Michigan’s economy, keeping jobs safe, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and affordable college.