WSW: Congressional Candidate David Benac Focused On Connecting With Voters, Not Fundraising

Feb 15, 2018

David Benac
Credit WMUK

David Benac says Democrats won’t have more money than Republican Congressman Fred Upton this fall, and he says the party won’t win the Congressional seat by finding the most moderate candidate.


The History Professor at Western Michigan University is one of six candidates running for their party’s nomination in the 6th Congressional District to challenge Upton in November. Invitations to been sent to all of the candidates to be interviewed on WestSouthwest.

Other Democratic candidates have raised more money, but Benac says his campaign has been more visible. He says the campaign is made up largely of volunteers. Benac says Upton will have more money than any Democratic candidate. He says the ability to connect with voters is more important. Benac says money is needed to run a campaign, but he says the winner of the Democratic primary will have access to money for the general election from donors who want to see Upton defeated.

Benac got into politics because he was inspired by the Presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He says that’s the only type of Democrat who can win the general election in the fall. Benac says he doesn’t believe the 6th district is a Republican strong hold. He sees it as an anti-establishment district that went for Sanders in the Democratic primary and supported President Trump in the general election. Benac says Democrats can’t win the race unless they get people excited to show up and vote.

Benac Grew up in Alpena, Michigan, and moved to Louisiana where he was a professor at a small college. He came back to Michigan to teach at Western. Benac says he had been active on issues, before entering politics.

Money in Politics

Among the issues that Benac says inspired him to run is money in politics. He says seats in the Legislature are “auctioned off” to the wealthiest people. Asked how to fix that, Benac says it takes hard work, talking with voters wherever they are. He says it means crossing ideological lines, and reaching out to people who might not be on same page. Benac says he has attracted people who voted for President Trump. He says they had legitimate concerns, but those haven’t been addressed since Trump became President.

Agriculture

Part of Benac’s planform is a “progressive agricultural policy.” He says there is a difference between liberal and progressive. Benac says a liberal fixes a symptom of a problem. As an example he cites subsidies for farmers. Benac says a progressive solution is to fix the problem of fewer large corporate farms. He says that would include taking money spent on agricultural subsidies to help farmers transition to a more sustainable system, and bring more workers back to farms.

Discussion of other issues can be heard in the extended web version of the interview. 

Education

Benac says there should be a focus on public education, and a push back against programs from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Benac says students should not be priced out of college, and vocational training should be improved. He says it can be paid for, it’s just an issue of priorities.

Jobs

A $15 an hour minimum wage is one step according to Benac. He says there should be a floor in place to keep people working full time out of poverty. But he says even $15 isn’t enough.

Health Care

Benac says every person deserves health care. He says a single-payer system would save money through efficiency and elimination of overhead.

Immigration

Asked about a policy that would get his support, Benac says every immigrant is a human being and deserves dignity. He says there has to be a path to citizenship, dreamers who came to the country as young children have to be protected, and families cannot be broken up. Benac says there has be a way for people who want to come to this country and work to create a better life.